Anyone who has ever daydreamed of their hidden desires will savour Robert A. Masciantonio’s well-crafted film that delves into one man’s struggle to never be 39 again. Richard, the titular head of the Harrison family, sees full-chested women wherever he turns—notably a mysterious blonde who drives the Walter Mitty character into a series of hilarious scenes staged on the theatre of the absurd.
Bill Page (who along with Lou Leoni, Paul Goodman and Mary McDermott penned the story from which Masciantonio fashioned the taut screenplay) is ideal as the “40-fat-accountant.” He courageously devours (in all senses) nipple-designed donuts, delights in being whipped by his suddenly sado-machistic supervisor, Tanya (Erin Brown is deliciously up to the task), takes Destruction’s (buff and bruising John Boykin) punishing body slams in the ring, dives into the vanishing arms of his adoring fans at a frenzied rock concert (energetically performed by Draw the Line) and strips down to his skivvies at the behest of bumper-car babes who incredibly morph into outraged grannies, forcing the perennial lust-seeker into the seen-it-all clutches of the law. It’s up to Page to carry the movie, which he does remarkably well, aided and happily abetted by the rest of the cast.
On the home front, wife Ann (Tracy Toth) bravely goes through the paces of the daily squabbles around the breakfast table (similar to another dysfunctional tribe where everyone harbours repressed secrets, cross-reference below), frequently pleading “Can’t we at least act like a family?” Daughter Tina (Kristen Hughes) and son Tom (Charlie McDermott) are occasionally a little over-the-top in their stereotypical insults and attitude but excel with sugary civility in the “perfect day” sequence. As funny as that scene is, it’s the post-credits outtakes that draw the biggest laughs. If that madcap looseness and timing had found more of its way into the writing and performances, this could have been a comedy for the ages.
The conceit of Richard promising Ann (post underwear romp in the amusement park) to see a psychologist works beautifully in driving the narrative forward. Krista Allen is the affable shrink who plies her hypnotic magic and soon hears the intimate details of Richard’s real/imagined life, including the long-lost love of Ava (Rebecca Cook). The drama builds as the identity of the only person he truly cares about comes closer into frame.
The production is filled with many reinforcing songs (notably “Hole in His Heart”) and a brilliant, jazz-effused score from Kurt Oldman. From big band at full cry to the tender intimacy of the vibes, the music suits and supports the action at every turn along this fantastical road of the subconscious.
Even though comedy is the main ingredient, the intention of the artistic trust to leave their audience with some familial food for thought is as welcome as it is carefully shared. Can’t wait to see what happens in a few years when Richard crosses the 50-year line. JWR