Sunday, October 14, 2012

Excuse Me For Living - Movie Review

If you are at all homesick for As The World Turns or One Life to Live, the recent release of Excuse Me For Living (directed and written by Ric Klass) may just be what the doctor ordered.  Tom Pelphrey (Jonathan Randall, Guiding Light; Mick Dante, ATWT), Melissa Archer (Natalie Banks, OLTL), Ewa Da Cruz (Vienna, ATWT), David A. Gregory (Robert Ford, OLTL), Tonja Walker (Marie Green, GL; Grace Nancier, Passions; Alex Olanov, OLTL), James McCaffrey (Charlie Spangler, ATWT) and Shenaz Treasury (Rama Patel, OLTL) are all part of the cast.  Add to the mix a collection of legendary character actors:  Christopher Lloyd, Robert Vaughn, Wayne Knight, Dick Cavett and Jerry Stiller -- and you have a wacky and off-beat romantic comedy that is a lot of fun...and surprisingly moving in unexpected moments.

(Tom Pelphrey and Melissa Archer, pictured above)

First of all, is there anything that Tom Pelphrey can't do as an actor and knock completely out of the ballpark?  As rich and suicidal drug addict Dan Topler, Pelphrey plays the role with gusto, proving what many daytime viewers already know:  he is simply brilliant.  Along with the quirkiness that he seems to excel at, there is also a beautiful vulnerability that would creep up, particularly in the scenes with Robert Vaughn (pictured below as Dr. Jacob Bernstein).  Classic film and television lovers will remember Robert Vaughn from The Young Philadelphians, The Magnificent Seven and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., just to name a few of his many credits.

After a suicide attempt on the George Washington Bridge, Dan ends up in an upscale rehabilitation clinic and treated by Dr. Bernstein.  Along the way, Dan falls for Dr. Bernstein's daughter, Laura (played by Melissa Archer).  Laura is a sweet girl who also has a bit of a wild side -- not that far away from the character of "Natalie" from OLTL.  On Dan's journey, we meet Dan's father (Wayne Knight), the mistress of Dan's father (played by the effervescent and scene-stealing Tonja Walker), playboy and drug pusher Bruce (David A. Gregory), crackpot Lars (Christopher Lloyd) and the older men of Dr. Bernstein's support group -- including Morty (Jerry Stiller) and Barry (James McCaffrey).

While Excuse Me For Living is focused on Dan's recovery and redemption, there is also a very moving subplot involving Charlie (Ewa Da Cruz), the barracuda/femme fatale attorney handling the divorce of Dan's parents.  When Charlie meets Barry, an older man who was friends with her father -- she reexamines her life and changes priorities, but not before she makes devastating mistakes along the way.  This movie particularly showcased the talents of actress Ewa Da Cruz, accentuating her beauty, comic skills and pathos.

(Ewa Da Cruz and James McCaffrey, pictured below)

For the most part, the movie was enjoyable, although sometimes the tone of it was inconsistent.  There were crazy over-the-top moments that didn't mesh with the rest of the film -- like when Dan gets decked by a police officer early on in the film for no apparent reason; and in other sections, the dialogue seemed to be so bogged down with pseudo-intellectual references that it didn't even make sense.  However, the pros outweighed the cons.  I left the theater with a smile.

For information about seeing the movie in limited release along with nationwide cable TV on-demand viewing, iTunes and other major platforms, visit

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