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As a dark comedy or urban fable of corporate life Rick doesn't really work. The recurring motifs - people getting names mixed up, people giving complex directions, people's failure or ability to hail transport, among others - are neither funny nor insightful. And the final twist is predictable and depends on stupidity by a character (or rather his unseen agent) hitherto shown to be preternaturally competent, plus a coincidence involving a clothing change that fatally breaks the suspension of disbelief.

There's a writing rule that says you can use coincidence - and I guess, to an extent, stupidity - to set up a situation, but you shouldn't use them to resolve it. The ending of Rick shows why that rule exists.

imdb reveals that the basis for the movie was Verdi's Rigoletto (which explains the full name of the character, Rick O'Lette), but being inspired by opera plots - silly as they can get - doesn't absolve a screenwriter from creating climaxes and situations that are believable in their own right. The film never establishes a sufficiently absurdist tone for the ending to work.

On the other hand as a showcase for Bill Pullman in the titular role Rick works quite well. Writer Daniel Handler is better at creating an interesting, complex character than he is at constructing the mechanics of his downfall. And Bill Pullman more than lives up to the task. His Rick is sadistic, introspective, ambitious, insecure, misogynistic, protective and quirky.

Couple of quick points: I liked the music - stark arrangements of mostly Christmas songs, and the "My own company" gag. And it was weird to see the end titles credit the writer, Handler, before the director Curtiss Clayton. I'm guessing that the movie was made outside the auspices of the DGA because of this.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 15, 2005 1:35 PM.

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