Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Barry McEvoy, Brian F. O'Byrne, Anna Friel, Colum Convey, Billy Connolly, Pauline McLynn, Ruth McCabe, Laurence Kinlan, Des McAleer
Written by: Barry McEvoy
Directed by: Barry Levinson
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 103
Date: 12/25/2000
IMDB

An Everlasting Piece (2000)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Misses by a Hair

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Barry Levinson leaves both the Bay Area and Baltimore behind for lovely Ireland. And for the life of me, I can't figure out why.

An Everlasting Piece is a strangely unfunny movie about wig salesmen, one a Catholic and one a Protestant, in Belfast, Ireland in the 1980s. They have a certain amount of time to sell a certain amount of wigs so that they can get a contract with a big wig-maker and stay in business.

The movie is full of wig jokes and various other jokes projected at about the same level (one long sequence has a character chasing after a dog who has stolen a wig; a million laughs ensue). Bad puns include a wig company called "Toupee or Not Toupee." I may have laughed at wig jokes when I was 5 years old, but I just don't think they're funny anymore. Strangely, the older crowd at the screening I attended was floored with laughter. And even stranger than that, Dreamworks and Columbia Pictures have enough faith in this curiosity to release it on Christmas Day.

The movie is written by playwright Barry McEvoy, who also stars as one of the wig salesman. The other is played by Brian F. O'Byrne. These names are well known in Europe and on stage, but film fans will not recognize them. The only familiar face belongs to Billy Connolly, who was very good in John Madden's Mrs. Brown (1997).

Levinson has one of those careers in which he is well-liked by the Hollywood establishment and occasionally makes a big movie for them, like Rain Man (1988) or Sphere (1998). In exchange, he gets to make little, personal movies like Wag the Dog (1997) and Liberty Heights (1999). Where An Everlasting Piece fits in, I have no idea. I would imagine he's playing director-for-hire, paying his dues for making two little, personal films in a row; Liberty Heights, and the still-unreleased Original Diner Guys, about the fellows who inspired his directorial debut, Diner (1982).

An Everlasting Piece falls into a niche of gentle, old-fashioned comedy for people who still grin at Mickey Rooney's antics. It definitely has its place in this world of obvious and vulgar Farrelly-type comedy, but I just couldn't find it within myself to care.

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