The Pallbearer Movie Review

If you haven't been beaten over the head enough with news of the grand entrance of Friend David Schwimmer into the world of film, here's a little more!

Schwimmer's first outing, The Pallbearer, doesn't venture too far from the Friends tree, as we are presented with a big romantic comedy that borders on television kitschiness, full of screwball humor and plenty of misunderstandings to fuel the plot. In fact, the entire premise of The Pallbearer is driven by one big misunderstanding itself: Tom Thompson (Schwimmer) is asked to give the eulogy at the funeral of Bill Abernathy, a guy from high school who he doesn't even remember. (While The Eulogist might have been a more appropriate title, I figure a name like The Pallbearer will confuse enough stupid American moviegoers anyway.)

Tom reluctantly agrees to help out at the funeral thanks to the sobbing and advances of Bill's seductress mother Ruth (a bleached-blonde Barbara Hershey). Of course, not remembering the deceased is good for at least 40 minutes of laughs, the remainder of which are filled with Tom's completely unrelated pursuit of high school crush Julie (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Between Schwimmer's lost-puppy look and Paltrow's permanent pout, one might think this is a serious movie about love and death, but of course it's not. In fact, with its large supporting cast of twentysomethings variously afflicted with angst (including Michael Rapaport and Toni Collette, Muriel from Muriel's Wedding), it's a lot like a long Friends episode ("The One With The Dead Guy").

Now while I enjoy the show, I'm not too keen on a 94-minute version of it, because as with many comedies, the jokes can get old, the story can get silly, and the characters can get on your nerves. While this isn't too bad with The Pallbearer, it does happen on occasion, mainly because of director Matt Reeves letting the film wallow in Tom's self-pity far too often. Also, the progression of Tom's various romances here is a bit iffy, but at least it gives schmucks like myself some hope for the future.

Overall, The Pallbearer may not be as stylish or as funny as some of the other comedies of 1996 like The Birdcage or Flirting With Disaster, but it's fairly good.... At least it's better than a funeral.

Yeah, she's cute, but Gwyneth has a bumpy head if you ask me.


The Pallbearer Rating

" OK "

Rating: PG-13, 1996


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