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The Amateurs

By Jav Rivera

When a film gets it right, it doesn’t matter what subject it focuses on.  The Amateurs, a film about a small town trying to make a porno film, is a perfect example. Writer/Director Michael Traeger’s feature debut has a lot of heart, a lot of comedy and a lot of great performances. 

The strongest aspect of the film is the ensemble cast, and more so because the cast is made up of several actors who are rarely given the amount of screen time their talents deserve. William Fichtner is especially superb as Otis, a custodian with no immediate goals to better his career.  It’s Otis who seems to have more insight on women than anyone else on the filmmaking crew and whose inherit intuition helps keep the production moving forward. 
L-R: Patrick Fugit, William Fichtner, Jeff Bridges, and Tim Blake Nelson
And it’s each character’s reason for wanting to make the porno that produces most of the film's charm.  Jeff Bridges’s character, Andy, wants to prove to his son (and himself) that he can have a successful career.  Barney (Tim Blake Nelson) has a lack of worth until this project comes alone. Some Idiot ( Joe Pantoliano) wants to put the skills he's learned from various night school courses to use.  Young filmmaker Emmett (a grown up Patrick Fugit of Almost Famous fame) uses his camera skills as a means to prove his worth within the small community.  And of course there’s Ted Danson’s closet character, Moose, who uses the porno to overcompensate for his homosexuality.

L-R: Ted Danson (Moose), William Fichtner (Otis), Jeff Bridges (Andy), Tim Blake Nelson (Barney), Joe Pantoliano (Some Idiot), Patrick Fugit (Emmett) 
None of the characters are stereotypical, which help make an unrealistic premise believable.  Danson is especially sensitive to the generalization of a closet homosexual by making Moose sympathetic and real.  The love among the film’s cast shines vividly onscreen through the closeness of their characters.  It may be a small town trying to make a porno flick but it’s also a group of people extremely tolerant of each other’s quirks.  It quite simply makes you want to live in a place with that much love and support.

The Amateurs Trailer

Jeff Bridges leads a group of “know them by face” character actors who all finally get their due credit.  There are several laugh out loud moments, but it’s the love between characters that really makes this film work.

For more information about The Amateurs, visit their official IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0405163/

TRIVIA:  The film was originally called The Moguls and was released under that title in the United Kingdom.