The Amateurs (R)

Comedy 99 December 7, 2007
By Hazel-Dawn Dumpert
Welcome to Butterface Fields, a SoCal town peopled by cheery barfly numbskulls with names like Mo & Ron, Some Idiot, and Moose. Their king is Andy (Jeff Bridges), a divorced and feckless sad sack who, faced with competition for his teen son's respect, decides that the best way to make a mark and score some bank is to gather the townsfolk to shoot an amateur porno. As a first-time director, Michael Traeger's greatest, not inconsiderable talent is staying out of the way as his skilled and eminently likable cast (including a very good William Fichtner, Joe Pantoliano, Ted Danson and, making much out of almost nothing, Lauren Graham) generates a palpable camaraderie. Cinematographer Denis Maloney envelops the film in a warm and homey amber glow, and editor Raúl Dávalos maintains a brisk narrative flow. The Amateurs is nothing if not easy to watch. Yet, as a writer, Traeger is adolescent and glib, imagining a world where synonyms such as fruit cup, honey pot, and yodel are as funny as it gets; where cherub-faced innocents are discovered over and over to have insatiably kinky sex drives; where The Full Monty is still fresh enough to inspire cribbing; and where, if you’ve paid even slight attention, a surprise ending is no surprise at all.
Michael Traeger Jeff Bridges, Ted Danson, William Fichtner, Patrick Fugit, Lauren Graham, Glenne Headly, Tim Blake Nelson, Joe Pantoliano, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Isaiah Washington Michael Traeger Aaron Ryder First Look Studios

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