Pins and Needles Movie Review

You can be forgiven if Pins and Needles gives you an After School Special flashback. The film is about as subtle as a brick through the window, though it has enough earnestness to keep its head above water. Sort of.

Though it's only 80 minutes long, Pins and Needles feels like a good two hours -- because its single-minded storyline drags you from Point A to Point B without so much as a detour for comic relief. Writer/director Mark Schwab attempts to mitigate this by telling half the story in the present and half in flashback, but the flashback scenes are so poorly acted that those vignettes make you cringe more than drawing you into the plot. The present -- which takes place completely within a suicide hotline office while one crisis worker (Mark Balunis) tries to ferret out the location of an overdosing young man (Devon Lee Grover) via telephone -- is far more assured.

That's really about all there is to the story. The flashback scenes (all presented in color; the present is in black and white) tell us of the presumably tragic events leading up to Danny's (Grover) suicide attempt. And herein lies the problem with Pins and Needles. Danny's motive for suicide is nothing special or even remotely surprising: He's been screwed over by his boyfriend. And unless you're so prudish to think that Danny's homosexuality counts as a plot twist, you won't find a single turn here that deviates one iota from the expected resolution. That's unfortunate, because the film could have had a lot of fun with the old-fashioned Keep Him on the Line So We Can Trace the Call thriller, but instead it shoots for the heartstrings. And misses.

Balunis's earnest portrayal of a hotline counselor is the only thing you could really call "good acting" in Pins and Needles. Much of the dialogue is stilted and doesn't help, either, and the digital video looks fairly cheap. Overall, if you're hoping to be on the titular pins and needles while watching Schwab's drama, you might want to bring a few pointy objects to the screening with you.


Comments

Pins and Needles Rating

" Grim "

Rating: NR, 2001

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