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Partner(s)

Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // December 13, 2005
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by David Cornelius | posted January 25, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Movie

"Partner(s)" is an indie comedy that you really, really, really want to like, despite its every effort to get you to do otherwise. This is a likable cast spouting likable dialogue to create likable charm, and yet it all comes bundled in a premise built to make even the most ardent "Three's Company" fan groan.

The premise, and stop me if you've heard this before, goes something like this: two young rivals a law firm, Dave (Jay Harrington) and Katherine (Julie Bowen), are bickering competitors when a high profile discrimination case comes their way; Dave lands the case when it's perceived he is gay. Which he is not, but hey, it's a chance at a promotion, so why not play along?

If it sounds like a bad sitcom set-up, well, it is. Writer/director Dave Diamond (whose name couldn't possibly be real, could it?) fills his screenplay with all the twists and turns you'd expect out of such a story, right down to the whole bit where Dave falls for a business associate (Brooke Langton), and she falls right back, only he can't tell her he's not really gay, and then she finds out, and then, and then, and then.

And it's so sloppily presented, too. Diamond's clumsiness in the director's chair is never more obvious than in one late scene between two old flames (Michael Ian Black and Corey Reynolds) who just might get back together; this is meant to be the scene that finally pushes the movie from lighthearted farce to more tender, emotional fare, and yet Diamond ruins the moment by relying on awkward close-ups of the actors staring into the camera, Jonathan Demme-style. It's a key misstep in a movie loaded with missteps.

That said, there are some magical moments to be found here, thanks mainly to the cast. Harrington gets the comic timing just right, saving many a scene from collapse. Black, always reliable in anything he does, somehow gets the predictable punchlines about homosexuality to actually work; I giggled at quite a few of the tired, familiar yuks. Even Bowen, whose bitchy backstabber character is so weakly written that she's often quite unwatchable here, manages to pull a few chuckles from the material, thanks to a fine rapport with her costars. (The best scenes here are between her, Harrington, and Saul Rubinek, playing their boss.)

But there's only so much that you can do with material that's this worn out, especially if you're unwilling to stray from any formula. Diamond really tries at times - his dialogue is curiously sharp, making me wonder how he do so well in one area of writing but not any others - but he ultimately comes up too short. "Partner(s)" is cute and friendly, but it's also a smidge too clich├ęd to actually take off the way Diamond had hoped.

The DVD

Video


"Partner(s)" is given an attractive 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. Any softness to the image is more the result of the original, low budget film than the transfer itself.

Audio

The 2.0 Dolby Stereo track is all a chatty comedy really needs. The dialogue is sharp and right up front, the obnoxious musical score never getting in its way. The disc includes optional English closed captioning and Spanish subtitles.

Extras

Just a handful of trailers for other Lions Gate releases. Nothing else. Not that a movie like this cries out for a loaded edition, but the bare bones status here doesn't justify the $26.99 SRP.

Final Thoughts

Fans of gay cinema may wish to give this a glance, if only to see positive attitudes presented in a manner that's refreshingly not pushy or preachy. Also, fans of Michael Ian Black might wish to check this one out, if only to watch him steal the show with another of his enjoyable comic performances. Fans of well-written, intelligent comedy, however, should probably grab something else.
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