Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Wishbones

Author(s): Chris M (NJ)
The Wishbones

A Focus Feature Film
Produced by Sandy Stern and Michael Stipe
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
Written by Tom Perrotta
Based on his novel “The Wishbones”
Cinematography by Phedon Papamichael
Editing by Kevin Tent
Original Score by Carter Burwell
Original Soundtrack produced by Michael Stipe
Music performed by “The Wishbones”


Mark Ruffalo as Dave Raymond
Marisa Tomei as Julie Muller
Mary Louise Parker as Gretchen
Hugh Laurie as Artie
Jack Black as Buzzy
Maya Rudolph as Vanessa
Jason Schwartzman as Stan
Anna Farris as Tamara
Mike Doyle as Ian
Patrick Wilson as Alan Zelack
Dominic Chianese as Phil Hart

Tagline: "Dreams don’t age, People do"


Dave: The Lead Singer
Everything is going pretty well for Dave Raymond (Ruffalo). Life isn't perfect, but it isn't bad. Dave works as a courier during the week, and spends the rest of time as the lead singer of the Wishbones, a New Jersey wedding band. While it isn't exactly the big time, it is music. Dave has drifted through an on-and-off relationship with the same girl, Julie Muller (Tomei) for the past fifteen years. Julie gives Dave an ultimatum, take the relationship to the next level or they are done. Dave’s perspective on life changes dramatically when he witnesses the on-stage death of Phil Hart (Chianese), the lead singer of Phil Hart and his Heartstring Orchestra. Shaken, he returns home and proposes. Getting cold feet almost immediately, Dave makes a truly sophomoric decision and gets involved with a sexy bohemian poet; Gretchen (Parker). Dave is attracted to Gretchen because in his own words, “she's the exact opposite of all the things I hate.” Dave must make a decision at this cross road, will he settle down and make a real commitment for the first time in his life or continue to live in the dream world of making it as a musician.

Artie: The Rhythm Guitarist
Artie (Laurie) is the oldest member of the group and is twice divorced, and is the manager of the Wishbones. Artie is responsible for their recent success as a wedding and special events band finding them a slot on the coveted Wednesday Night Showcase at the Cranwood Ramada Inn where prospective customers could check out their act. Artie has come to the point in his life where he realizes that he has dreamt of stardom yet it’s always eluded him. Come to think of it, he hasn’t been successful in marriage, work, or music. He is debating on leaving the band once and for all and going back to college to get his degree so he can get steady job.

Buzzy: The Bass Player
Buzzy (Black) is currently the only married member of the band, marrying Vanessa (Rudolph) the former back up singer for the group, in which two sons have since been produced. During the week he does quality control for a company that manufactures prosthetic devices, a job he utterly despises. In his spare time he dreams of writing the next big musical on Broadway, and has an 80 page manuscript for his rock infused show about the Assassination of JFK.

Ian: The Keyboardist
Ian (Doyle) is the youngest member of the band and currently resides at his parent’s home. The other band members suspect that this constant bachelor might be gay because of his tendency to indulge in Elton John numbers, his sequined tuxedo and his constant companion Alan Zelack (Wilson), the flamboyant lead singer of Sparkle, an 80’s cover band. Ian is struggling with the band and his other job, managing his father’s record shop. The store will be his, as soon as his father retires and he wants to concentrate on making it a success and the band is an obstacle preventing that success.

Stan: The Drummer
Stan (Schwartzman) is currently going through a bitter divorce, his wife Tamara (Farris), has left him for another woman. To add insult to injury, she is requesting his drum set in the hearings because she bought the set for him when they were dating. Stan claims to be suicidal, but it’s a lie, he is in constant need of attention, whether on stage (random drum solos) or in life (threatening to jump off the local bridge); his nick name is Peter Pan because he has never grown up.

What the Press Would Say:

Terry Zwigoffs latest film is sharply intelligent and affecting cinema. The Wishbones is Zwigoff’s most ambitious and effective film to date. Zwigoff was attracted to the powerful script saying that “the struggle for identity is what these characters battle from the start and that it leads to a hunger they are unable to satiate. It was this idea that sold me on the film.” The Wishbones is based on the acclaimed novel by Tom Perrotta who wanted to make his adaptation a film that would stand on its own, independent of the book. Perrotta succeeded by re-imagining his work and exploring new possibilities for the characters making it more compliant for the screen.

The Wishbones features one of the strongest ensembles assembled in years. The cast is led by Mark Ruffalo, the lead singer of the Wishbones who’s getting to be too old to rock 'n' roll but just can't imagine stopping. Ruffalo is hilarious and emotionally devastating as Dave Raymond, who discovers the revelations and fears of a man finally bidding farewell to his boyhood dreams. Marisa Tomei is stunning as Julie, Dave’s long suffering girlfriend of fifteen years. Tomei brings emotion and grace to her character, a woman who has dreams of her own, starting a family. The other woman who threatens to destroy the relationship is played to perfection by Mary Louise Parker. Parker excels as the twisted yet delightful Gretchen, a bohemian poet from New York. Parker makes every moment of her performance matter and delivers nothing less than comedic genius. Jack Black is simply brilliant in his scene-stealing portrayal of Buzzy, which is a perfect marriage of Blacks talents: comedy and music. Black displays incredible depth as a man who is struggling to make it in the entertainment world while trying to provide for his family. Hugh Laurie shines as Artie, the manager and mentor of the group. Laurie is riveting, hilarious and poignant as a man entering into a mid life crisis. What makes this ensemble all the more impressive is the fact that the actors all play their instruments in the film and perform the songs on the soundtrack.

This unnervingly funny and quietly devastating film pulls you in from the opening scene. Unlike most films that crowd theatres today, Zwigoff and Perrotta value the intelligence of the material, the actors, and the audience. Recently, in too many films, intelligence is woefully undervalued, and it is this quality that distinguishes The Wishbones from its peers. A scene that illustrates this is a brief moment in the middle of the film: Dave (Ruffalo) turns on the television to relax and comes across a history program that is recounting the last days of World War II, complete with snapshots of tankers looming in the foreground. Cut to another part of the world on the small screen and the Hiroshima bomb is spreading out in slow motion. Perfectly executed, "The Wishbones" is just this: the life of a middle aged man spreading out like a bomb, and the effects of it - visually dazzling and beautiful from one perspective, horrific from another. The Wishbones is the film of the year, it’s challenging, accessible, and hard to stop thinking about.

Best Picture
Best Director – Terry Zwigoff
Best Actor – Mark Ruffalo
Best Supporting Actor – Jack Black
Best Supporting Actor – Hugh Laurie
Best Supporting Actress – Mary Louise Parker
Best Supporting Actress – Marisa Tomei
Best Adapted Screenplay – Tom Perrotta

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