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Peep World


Puts a fair amount of ‘fun’ in ‘dysfunction’

Rod Lott July 11th, 2011

Ever pulled a pan of Jell-O out of the fridge before it's done? It still tastes OK, but it feels shapeless, not quite formed, just shy of the real thing. That's what the comedy "Peep World" feels like. I still enjoyed it, even if it didn't quite incubate as long as it should have.

peepworld

It sports one of the year's best casts, with Michael C. Hall, Rainn Wilson and Sarah Silverman portraying sour siblings angry at their baby brother, Nathan (Ben Schwartz, the scene-stealing Jean-Ralphio on TV's "Parks and Recreation"), for basing his runaway-hit novel on their lives. It's hard to blame him, because their immense dysfunction is readymade material.

Jack (Hall, TV's "Dexter") is an architect who can barely pay the bills, Joel (Wilson, TV's "The Office") is the black sheep who's been in and out of rehab, and Cheri (Silverman) has major self-esteem issues. They've all lived under the shadow of their über-successful developer father (Ron Rifkin, TV's "Brothers & Sisters"), and resent that Nathan has been able to climb out from under it.

That's ripe for a comedy, but subplots are less developed. For example, Nathan's secret of suffering from premature ejaculation goes nowhere but an out-of-place bit and an unbelievable conclusion, while Jack's frequent trips to the porn shop are brushed away with ease, despite his pregnant wife (an underused Judy Greer, TV's "Mad Love") having just found out about it, much to her hormonal dismay.

Their problems intensify to an outright confrontation at Dad's birthday dinner, resulting in the film's funniest and best scene, even if the predictable happens. "Peep World" is higher-minded than director Barry Blaustein's previous work — which includes directing Johnny Knoxville in "The Ringer" and writing the second installments in the "Police Academy" and "The Nutty Professor" franchises — and almost up to the level he wants it to be.

Great performances abound in this indie effort; it's particularly nice to see Hall and Wilson do work outside of their Emmy-nominated roles of Dexter Morgan and Dwight Schrute that have defined their careers thus far. And as the family matriarch, Lesley Ann Warren looks ab fab at 65.  —Rod Lott


 
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