THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
Some movies just drip with false-sincerity and charm,
a staple of a certain kind of indie rom-com that I
just can't stand. Directors like Eric Shaeffer crank out oh-so-witty scripts about young
artistes that manage to self-deprecate in a way that
only someone in love with themselves can do. In the
winky opening moments of Christopher Livingston's Hit and Runway I
sensed a similar experience when an on-screen computer
monitor showed the intro of the movie typed out in
screenplay format. Great, I thought, another indie
movie about making an indie movie. But then something
different happened. Against all odds Hit and
Runway became about people.
The story of a young Italian-American mook named Alex
and gay Jewish playwright Elliot sets itself up as
another odd couple movie. The cuteness of pairing the
two characters is played up on the packaging. But in
fact Livingston has created (along with the
film's terrific stars) two very real, flawed
characters that go through all of the confusion and
drama of spending every waking moment together. When
an opportunity comes up to put a screenplay in front
of a relative who works in the biz Alex finds himself
full of ideas but lacking the ability to actually do
the writing part. He envisions a film about an
undercover cop in the world of high fashion, a story
that can appeal to guys and dolls. His idea is
hilariously stupid, filled with every cliche ever
offered up by Bruce, Arnold, Sly and the gang. When he
finds a play written by Elliot he knows what he must
do. His queasiness at taking a gay man on as a writing
partner is played subtly and eventually gives way to
his desire to write the script. The film chronicles a series of events in the pair's lives on the path of finishing the script.
Everything about this film comes as a pleasant surprise. The characters are not cliches but they're not cloyingly well-balanced either. The plot remains unpredictable until the credits roll, at some points being fantastically unrealistic while other times being modestly grounded in the truth. The dialog is clever and funny without being obvious. Even the actors, who start out seeming like typical low-budget indie amateurs slowly reveal the layers behind their characters. Leading the cast are Michael Parducci as Alex and Peter Jacobson as Elliot. They each so embody their roles (one as the macho outer-borough meatball, the other as the nebbishy writer) that the slow understanding that they reach is never less than completely believable. The rest of the cast is equally good, including a small, memorable performance from J.K. Simmons of Oz and Law & Order.
The box compares the film to The Odd Couple and calls it Kiss Me Guido meets Annie Hall but barring one explicit Woody Allen reference Livingston's film is an original.
The widescreen transfer is okay if a little lacking in contrast. Also, compression is evident.
The stereo sound is nothing special but never less than clear. No subtitles are included.
An excellent commentary track from director Christopher Livingston and writer/producer Jaffe Cohen is included. They are entertaining and informative although annoyingly the movie's audio is completely missing from the mix on the commentary so when the filmmakers go silent or comment on a funny bit of dialog the audience is left out of the loop.
Email Gil Jawetz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hit and Runway is a wonderful film that can be appreciated by a lot of different audiences. The filmmakers along with their superb cast have broken through the barrier of too-prescious independent comedy filmmaking and come up with something much better.