What is it about Eric Stoltz that almost guarantees a movie will be insufferable? It's not that he's a bad actor. There's just something so glib and smarmy about him that it's very rare to see him in a sympathetic role. He's like a slightly friendlier James Spader, except without the intriguing kinkiness. Standing as a testament to everything that's wrong with an Eric Stolz movie (that breed of pretentious film that tries to appear sarcastic to hide the cloying sincerity at its core) is Naked in New York, Daniel Algrant's 1993 ode to nothing. The story involves a playwright (Stoltz) and his girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker) and the boo-hoo difficulties of trying to have a relationship while pursuing different careers. Nothing happens in their self-involved lives and the film conveys no emotional turmoil.
I'll structure this review as a list of pros and cons:
Although the cover art claims that Whoopi Goldberg makes a "special surprise appearance" (whatever that is), she actually never appears, and believe me: I managed to stay awake for all 91 minutes of this dreck, so I know. It's possible that she lends her face to a blink-and-you'll-miss-it role as one of two stone theater decorations during a stupid hallucination sequence but there's nothing special or surprising about it. So chalk up Ms. Goldberg's merciful absence as a plus.
Everything else. The script is trite and lacking in insight, the characters are boring and shallow, and the cast (Timothy Dalton, Ralph Macchio, Kathleen Turner...) is nearly universally miscast. (Stoltz - who is apparently playing a Jewish character, which is unbelievably stupid - is at one point told to not pursue a lady because she's too WASPy for him. Say what?)
The direction is visually uninteresting and without style. The film is cluttered with unimaginative fantasies and dream sequences that add nothing and only serve to drag the thing out to feature length. The jokes all fall flat on their face. The voiceover is interminable, much of it delivered directly into the camera for no reason. There's a brief full-frontal shot of Stoltz that's just... unpleasant. I can't go on. This is a terrible, terrible movie.
The full-screen video is bland and lifeless. Is it cropped? I don't know. But it looks lousy.
The Dolby surround audio is ok. Usually the voices are clear, although some scenes are a bit muffled. The music sounds fine.
Just trailers for 13 Going on 30, America's Sweethearts and My Best Friend's Wedding. This is one of those rare times I'm glad to see no extras.
Just a dreadful movie. I haven't been so harsh in a review in a while but there's nothing to recommend this stain on the resumes of all involved. Trying to dress up this waste of space with a sexy cover is misleading. Don't fall for this bait-and-switch.