The Next Big Thing Movie Review
Eigeman is Gus, who starts out the film having the worst possible day. On his way to an important meeting, battered portfolio in hand, his wallet is swiped by a swindler escaping from subway havoc. The interview goes poorly with gallery owner Arthur Pomposello (an unrecognizable Farley Granger, of beloved Hitchcock fame) because Gus just doesn't "catch you." His shading shows talent and his composition is pleasant to look at, but he doesn't display the normal despondence and stereotypical artistic pain seen in his peers.
The rejection sends him on an even more discouraging course when he returns home to find his apartment broken into. He goes to his girlfriend's only to be thrown out for going nowhere with his life while her friends are having kids and houses in the Hamptons. After one failure and another, Deech (Jamie Harris), the person who stole from him, returns to convince him to paint through a socially accepted alias that doesn't exist, and of course he's going to jump at the chance.
What works for this satire is that though it falls into some predictable patterns that would be better off trimmed, Gus doesn't go through the expected evils of instant success. He is charismatically humble and excited about the sudden appreciation, but we don't see him taking a downward spiral of drugs, or bedding the women that are now showing interest in his work. Because Eigeman makes Gus so natural as a person, it's much more interesting to watch him grow. This also makes the love subplot with Kate (Connie Britton) feel innately possible in even a short amount of time.
But, of course, being a spoof, there are going to be silly, extraneous caricatures you would rather ignore. The most annoying example is the bored, rich housewife who must sleep with every trendy artist, until their five seconds are up. As soon as Damien (cameo by Uma Thurman's brother Dechen) receives a bad review, she's dressed and out the door. That Gus's alter ego is bent on staying out of the spotlight creates her ultimate sexual vision.
The other extra, distracting, scenes such as those dealing with the thug-turned-co-conspirator and inspirational Deech, draw attention away from the central intrigue, instead of complimenting it. Some of this background influence is needed to further Gus along in his decisions, but discussing how his fake stand-in has to die is not worth the time spent on it when there's already been plenty of action dealing with ignorant gallery owners.
For a romantic comedy, The Next Big Thing hits many of the marks it should. You root for Gus in sticking to his Everyman nature, his mutual attraction with Kate is sweetly intelligent, and laughing at the preposterously well-off is easy for the first few minutes. Had some of the garbled middle groundwork for Gus to earn his due been extracted, or more time spent just on Gus, the 87 minutes would have kept the attention tighter.
The DVD includes commentary from P.J. and Joel Posner and Eigeman, as well as the original trailer.