Film Scouts Reviews

"The House of Yes"

by Karen Jaehne

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This ironies of this movie go so deep that it's hard to believe the filmmakers are not aware of its stuttering hypocrisy. Let's review its claims and preoccupations.

By what stretch of the imagination can a movie produced by the megalith TV production company Spelling Entertainment be an independent film? Especially when it stars Aaron Spelling's daughter Tori, who has been sighted on (should have been cited for) Beverly Hills 01290?

The original play was written by Wendy MacLeod, she says, after she saw in the bathroom of a wealthy family's house the following graffito: we are living in a house of yes. The phrase made her think about the insularity of the upper classes, people who have cut themselves off from the rest of the world. Did she also perhaps contemplate the famous Beverly Hills home of the Spellings - some 3 football fields of yes- or no-house? But of course, what would make us think the Spellings are insular?

Tori Spelling's acting could be called insular, for lack of a better phrase. She certainly doesn't seem to be in the same room with the other actors. Cute little Parker Posey works her butt off trying to mimic Jackie Kennedy, with pitiful results - but then that's the point of the movie. Parker's been crazy ever since November, 1963.

The real goal of the movie is to capture the decadence and incest - pace, Visconti! - of the upper classes. This family is supposed to live in the neighborhood of the Kennedys. It's a dark and stormy night. And Parker's twin brother (never trust a movie with twins) has just come home to flaunt his working class girlfriend at his beloved sister. Sadly, there is no steamy atmosphere to accompany this incest; they're rather like children playing dirty in a closet, not threatening the ruling class with the chinless, witless product of loving your cousins too much.

At one point, Tori Spelling gets to say that Parker is not crazy; she's just spoiled. And that's absolutely credible. So are the filmmakers. A bit more thought, a bit more struggle and comprehension of schizophrenia would have added some Tennessee Williams to the sit-com wit of their Dorothy Parker-esque repartee.

The publicity on the film wants us to believe it's about family, sex and privilege - oh, don't forget a girl with a gun - that always sells. But it's really about misfit actors receiving not enough direction to make us feel that taboos can be broken by just slipping across the razor's edge of devotion.

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