The Pallbearer

on May 03, 1996 by Susan Lambert
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   This film's original script was touted around Hollywood as "The Graduate" for the '90s, and there are obvious similarities. But this film is too original to be the '90s version of anything, no matter how wonderful the inspiration. It begins as a clever sitcom joke, but craft and cast quickly transform this quirky movie into a hilarious and surprisingly touching tale of young male woe. Love, lies, loss and betrayal etch this heartfelt debut from writer/director Matt Reeves, and star David Schwimmer (Ross on TV's "Friends") makes a fine foray into features.
   Tom (Schwimmer) is a hapless, still-living-at-home young man called to serve as a pallbearer for a former high school classmate. The problem: He doesn't even remember the guy. As the sorrowful mother of the dead youth, Barbara Hershey brings startling depth and strength to her role; the relationship that develops between her and Tom is both intricate and sad. Gwyneth Paltrow ("Seven") gives a fine-tuned performance as one of those gorgeous, poor little rich waifs that are usually so annoying in such movies; she's a gift here, playing her turn straight with a deft lightness. Carol Kane ("Addams Family Values") is a scene-stealer as Tom's mom.
   Schwimmer's comic timing and dead-on delivery are beautiful to behold, but he can't avoid a few "Ross" moments. The film also has a few awkward moments of its own as it swings between outright comedy and deadpan darkness. And, with one too many ending beats, it's a minor miracle that the epilogue wraps up as well as it does. Starring David Schwimmer, Gwyneth Paltrow, Barbara Hershey and Michael Rapaport. Directed by Matt Reeves. Written by Matt Reeves and Jason Katems. Produced by Jeffrey Abrams. A Miramax release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and language. Running time: 104 min
Tags: David Schwimmer, Gwyneth Paltrow, Barbara Hershey, Michael Rapaport. Directed by Matt Reeves. Written by Matt Reeves and Jason Katems. Produced by Jeffrey Abrams, Miramax, Comedy
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