Writer-director Eric Fleming wistfully pays homage to films of the 1970s in his rambling comedy "The Almost Guys," but the result is more along the lines of an abandoned sitcom pilot. Shot in just 24 days, the film staggers under the weight of stale gags and a meandering plot.
Fleming plays a repo man named Rick who, along with his septuagenarian partner, the Colonel (Robert Culp), discovers major leaguer Jim Maxwell (James Edson) in the trunk of a confiscated car three days before he is scheduled to pitch in the World Series. Rick and the Colonel, seeing a chance for a big score, decide to carry out the kidnapping they interrupted, doubling the ransom demanded from the ballclub.
A divorced dad disappointed with how his life has turned out, Rick scoops up his 10-year-old son, Buddy (Oliver Davis), from school, and the foursome hits the road to nowhere pursued by the Italians who were Jim's original kidnappers. Rick and Buddy have ample time to bond as the group ends up crashing at the home of one of Jim's ex-wives, Bigger (Shawnee Smith), where they swim, enjoy an outing at a ballpark and finally get around to planning a way to get their money.
As a writer, Fleming's strength actually seems to be playing it straight rather than with the broad humor that overwhelms the film. While the multiple pep talks the characters deliver to one another border on the platitudinous, an underlying sincerity makes them work -- even if the film doesn't.
`The Almost Guys'
MPAA rating: PG-13 for crude sexual references, language and thematic material
A Karma Films release. Writer-director Eric Fleming. Producer Andrea Michaud. Director of photography Brian Hoodenpyle. Editor Louis Cioffi. Music Jim Latham. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.
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