Taking a sketch from Saturday Night Live and turning it into a full blown movie has provided mixed results over the years. Some times they're a hit (The Blues Brothers) most of the time they bomb (The Ladies Man) and some surprise you and are entertaining, but underrated or forgotten. This is one of those films.
Stuart Smalley is the creation of Al Franken, and I must say on SNL I found the character entertaining , So how does the 5 minute sketch translate into an hour and a half film? lets find out
Plot summary (Taken from IMDB) -Stuart Smalley, the Saturday Night Live character, comes to the big screen. Stuart, the disciple of the 12 step program, is challenged by lifes injustices. He loses his Public Access Cable Television Show, must beg his manipulative overbearing boss for his job back, rehabilitate his alcoholic father and drug abuser brother, and support his over-weight mother and sister in their lack of ability in handling their relationships with their husbands. Stuart is supported by his 12 step sponsors as a he regresses back to his negative behaviors each time he faces these challenges.
Acting - Bringing this outlandish story to life took one heck of a cast to pull it off. Of course Franken portrayed Stuart, and did a great job doing so. One of the stronger points of the film, was the fact that the "supporting cast" did just what it should and supports the story. Perhaps my favorite supporting actors in the film are Harris Yulin as "Dad" and Vincent D'Onofrio as "Donnie". The rest of the supporting cast is great as well featuring Shirley Knight, Laura San Giacomo and Lesley Boone.
This is the rare case of the stars being aligned and having the perfect cast for the film. Not one role feels out of place and I cant imagine any other actors playing these roles.
What I liked - The thing i liked best about this film is the way everyone treats him like some kind of lunatic because he follows new age techniques. I especially love his fathers reactions to how Stuart acts and it adds such a contrast to the characters and how different they really are.
Another high point of the film was how the Stuart character was put into situations that you normally wouldn't see on SNL. That's a great thing as it gets far from the basic concept of the show and could be its own standalone movie.
What I disliked - There was only one thing that I did not like about the film and that was some of the dialog. Specifically the times when Stuart was attempting to insult or curse at someone. It just felt awkward and out of place. Just my opinion though, that could have been the whole point of those moments.
Overall: I really did enjoy this film. It took some chances and did some things you really never see in movies especially comedies. The risks might not have payed off at the box office, but its still an enjoyable film nonetheless.
Final Grade: A