Film Scouts Reviews

"The Impostors"

by Richard Schwartz

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Actor-director Stanley Tucci follows his successful debut "Big Night" with the slightly off-the-mark period farce "The Imposters," an intended homage to golden age screwball comedies ultimately hampered by its predictable set-ups and slow-developing punchlines. Tucci and Oliver Platt star as a pair of struggling Depression-era actors on the lam after bloodying another Shakespearean thespian. They take refuge in a wooden crate, fall asleep and later awake to find themselves on the same cruise ship as the roughed-up Broadway star. Comedic situations arise as the two stowaways attempt to duck authorities and, in the process, uncover the hidden identities and secrets of the ship's oddball passengers.

The deck is stacked with some impressive hands, including Tucci regulars Campbell Scott and Tony Shalhoub, the charming Lili Taylor and such recognizable actors as Alfred Molina and Billy Connolly. There's even appearances by Isabella Rosellini and an uncredited Woody Allen. With such a seasoned cast, it's ever the more disappointing that screenwriter Tucci couldn't coax fresher laughs out of the staid storyline. The situational comedy seems both overbroad and overboard; the physical comedy relies too heavily on pratfalls alone. Moreover, predictable set-ups plod along until they reach their predictable climaxes rather than welcome twists. The true homage pays tribute not merely by emulating, but also by cleverly executing, the conventions of the original. Unfortunately, this imposter is a false one.

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