The Laramie Project Review
By Christopher Null
Hey, look at me! I'm a B-list Hollywood actor with an inflated sense of self-worth that thinks he can "do something" for the world by making a socially responsible film.
Hey, look at me! A gay kid got beaten to death in Laramie, Wyoming, so let's go there and interview people... and write a play using their words.
Hey, look at me! A play ain't good enough. Let's make a movie about making a play about going to Laramie and interviewing people.
In case you're not following, "stars" like Clea DuVall and Suddenly Susan player Nestor Carbonell play New York theater types who went to Laramie and interview the populace about Matthew Shepard, a murdered youth in Laramie, Wyoming, beaten to death ostensibly because he was gay. Stars like Christina Ricci and Joshua Jackson play the townsfolk, and their words are based on the real transcripts that the real NYC theater types recorded during their interviews. Got it?
The egos involved in this project are so insanely inflated (the director, Moisés Kaufman, actually has Carbonell playing Kaufman oh-so-earnestly) that the whole project degenerates into utter mush within five minutes. (Even Jeneane Garofalo appears with a concerned look on her face that comes off as little more than deer-in-the-headlights.)
Overly earnest dialogue readings are alone enough to kill the picture immediately, but a bigger annoyance is the movie's score, a somber orchestral movement that plays without pause through virtually the entire movie. It gets on one's nerves the way nothing else can. Except for the split screen. Half the movie is presented in a ridiculous split screen format.
Movies like Boys Don't Cry have made this movie before -- and made it well. The Laramie Project, its very title a lame and conceited moniker, is at every turn an example of a movie gone wrong. Tragic? Yes. A movie? Hardly. Sundance pap, and little more -- a shameless attempt to capitalize on tragedy and a pathetic end result which should be shunned.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Saturday 9th March 2002
Distributed by: HBO Films
Production compaines: Cane/Gabay Productions
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 1
Cast & Crew
Screenwriter: Moisés Kaufman, Stephen Belber, Leigh Fondakowski, Amanda Gronich, Jeffrey LaHoste, John McAdams, Andy Paris, Greg Pierotti, Barbara Pitts, Kelli Simpkins, Stephen Wangh
Also starring: Christina Ricci, Steve Buscemi, Summer Phoenix, Dylan Baker, Tom Bower, Clancy Brown, Clea DuVall, Michael Emerson, Noah Fleiss, Ben Foster, Janeane Garofalo, Amanda Gronich, Mercedes Herrero, Bill Irwin, Joshua Jackson, Terry Kinney, Amy Madigan, Camryn Manheim, Margo Martindale, John McAdams, James Murtaugh, Andy Paris, Greg Pierotti, Barbara Pitts, Richard Riehle, Kelli Simpkins, Lois Smith, Frances Sternhagen, Grant Varjas, Mark Webber, Declan Baldwin, Stephen Belber, Leigh Fondakowski, Jeffrey LaHoste, Stephen Wangh