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Movie review: 'Spooner'

Sundance-winner Drake Doremus' latest is ultimately short-film material with sitcom-y caricatures — the crass boss, the horrific blind date — stretched to feature-length breaking point.

March 04, 2011|By Robert Abele
  • Matthew Lillard stars as the title character, a socially awkward and underperforming car salesman living in Monrovia with his parents, then a beautiful San Francisco transplant (Nora Zehetner) with a busted car enters the picture and validates his childlike nature.
Matthew Lillard stars as the title character, a socially awkward and underperforming… (Moving Pictures Film and…)

One's tolerance for man-child protagonists gets a healthy workout with "Spooner," a bite-sized indie from a few years ago that marks the feature directorial debut of Drake Doremus, this year's Sundance Grand Jury winner for "Like Crazy."

Doremus also directed last year's indie road comedy "Douchebag," but unlike that shaky-camera mumblecore effort — or the improvised nature of "Like Crazy" — he went with Coens-esque, static camera rigor for this slight portrait of male stuntedness.

Matthew Lillard stars as the title character, a socially awkward and underperforming car salesman living in Monrovia with parents (Kate Burton and Christopher MacDonald) who promise to evict him when he shortly turns 30. Then a beautiful San Francisco transplant (Nora Zehetner) with a busted car enters the picture, validates his childlike nature, and before you can say "Judd Apatow" we're whisked away into a movie Never-Ever-land of yeah-right romance for going-nowhere guys.

Not that Lillard's lanky nervousness can't occasionally disarm, or that Zehetner isn't a believably charitable hottie-waif. But this is ultimately short-film material with sitcom-y caricatures — the crass boss, the horrific blind date — stretched to feature-length breaking point.


For the record: An earlier version of this review stated that "Spooner" had no MPAA rating. The film is rated for R for brief language and sexual content.

"Spooner." R rating. Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.

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