Somewhere between Living in Oblivion and Cyrano de Bergerac lies Pipe Dream, John Walsh's quirky and endearing little comedy about love, the movies, and plumbing.
Martin Donovan stars as David, an everyday plumber who longs for the torrid love affairs that come with being a movie director. With the help of friend RJ (Kevin Carroll) and a script stolen from client/neighbor Toni (Mary-Louise Parker), David reinvents himself as "David Coppelberg," using Toni's script to stage a casting call and meet endless eligible ladies. But the movie, of course, takes on a life of its own, and soon enough David finds himself in the director's chair, with Toni (who's forgiven him for the theft) coaching him from the back seat.
Pipe Dream provides solid laughs and a satisfying romantic entanglement thanks to witty writing and two appropriately deadpan leads. I've always enjoyed Donovan and Parker's work, and they are genuinely fun here, especially Donovan's hang-dog portrayal of a man who decides to take matters into his own hands and quickly becomes a victim of circumstance as things spiral far out of control. Walsh's insight into the way movies really get made is dead on. I didn't quite feel the chemistry between Donovan and Parker that there ought to have been, and Rebecca Gayheart -- as the third leg of the love triangle -- doesn't add much beyond her usual ditz persona.
Still, there's something about Pipe Dream that is strangely fun and genuinely funny. I don't know why, but the way Donovan says "I like E.T." made me crack up so much I had to run it back and watch it three times. The plot machinations are surprising without being contrived, and the ending is satisfying without being perfunctory.
The DVD includes a commentary track from Walsh and co-writer Cynthia Kaplan, and a behind-the-scenes vignette that is precisely what it says: Raw footage captured during the shooting of the final scene of the film. Probably of interest only if you've never seen a movie being made before.