|LOST IN YONKERS (director/writer: Martha Coolidge; screenwriter: Neil Simon/based on the play by Neil Simon; cinematographer: Johnny E. Jensen; editor: Steven Cohen; music: Elmer Bernstein; cast: Richard Dreyfuss (Uncle Louie), Mercedes Ruehl (Aunt Bella), Irene Worth (Grandma Kurnitz), Brad Stoll (Jay), Mike Damus (Arty), David Strathairn (Johnny), Robert Guy Miranda (Hollywood Harry), Jack Laufer (Eddie), Susan Merson (Gert); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Ray Stark/Emanuel Azenberg; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 1993)|
|"The pic seems too calculating
and doesn't have the same stunning effect as
by Dennis Schwartz
faithful comedy/drama to Neil
Simon’s 1991 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, that is
also scripted by him. Director Martha
Girls"/"Angie"/"Rambling Rose") keeps things
shuffling, in this nostalgia-laden period film,
between melodrama and comedy, and tries to make it
less stagey but only gets so far in accomplishing that
goal. A good ensemble cast keeps things watchable,
even if it never gets exciting. Irene Worth and Mercedes
Ruehl reprise their pleasing
award-winning stage roles, while Richard Dreyfuss
takes over the role Kevin Spacey played on the stage.
All is well and good, but the pic seems too
calculating and doesn't have the same stunning effect
as the play.
Dramatic moments arise when granny's good-for-nothing petty criminal son Louie (Richard Dreyfuss) arrives as a guest for a few days, as he needs a place to hideout from the slick Yonkers gangster Hollywood Harry (Robert Guy Miranda) who wants to kill him for stealing a bag full of his money. While Uncle Louie visits he teaches the genteel boys how to live with moxie. The other major subplot has the likable but child-like 36-year-old daughter, Bella, the boy's 'lost in Yonkers' aunt, have a cautious romance with the retarded 40-year-old local movie house usher, Johnny (David Strathairn). But she is crushed when the timid sad soul is not fit enough to return her love and move away from his parents. The question lingers if Bella will ever be able to extricate herself from her dysfunctional home and live an independent life.
Though it has some charming moments, it never peels away its blandness. It seems easier to admire for how skillfully it's put together than to just enjoy it.
REVIEWED ON 1/23/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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