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  •  REVIEW: MAX AND GRACE

    Max and Grace

    Just shoot me

    "Max and Grace" is a horribly failed attempt to make a romantic comedy about depression and suicide.

    By JOSHUA TANZER
    Offoffoff.com

    They say there's someone for everyone, which should bring some encouragement to the unappealing depressive Max and the irritating schizophrenic Grace. But is there someone for every movie?

      
    MAX AND GRACE
    Written and directed by: Michael Parness.
    Cast: Natasha Lyonne, David Krumholtz, Tim Blake Nelson, Lorraine Bracco, David Paymer, Rosanna Arquette, Karen Black, Ralf Moeller, Guillermo Daz, Dave Attell, Emma Adele Galvin.
    Cinematography: Horacio Marqunez.
    Edited by: Mark Livolsi.

    Related links: Official site
     SCHEDULE
    Broadway Performance Hall 1625 Broadway, Seattle Thursday, June 9, 2005, 6:45 PM Saturday, June 11, 2005, 1:45 PM

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    Apparently yes. Two people near me chuckled merrily — if inexplicably — throughout "Max and Grace," which is not as many as walked out, but it should bring some encouragement to filmmaker Michael Parness. Somebody out there likes his movie.

    There's little to like, however. The idea behind the story is that our man Max gets himself thrown into a mental ward, where he instantly falls in love with Grace, reads a stack of psychology books, diagnoses her as basically lovesick rather than sick-sick, and decides to break her out and help her live happily ever after. It's meant to be charming and sympathetic, but it's actually rather insulting to anyone who has experience with mental illness.

    The whole rest of the movie is a sequence of unfunny gags about how zany it is to be mentally ill. There's the live-lobster freakout scene; the wrestling faith-healer scene; the walking on hot coals scene; and several hilarious suicide attempts. (She slits her wrists in the bathtub — but it's a bubble bath!) There are moments of fake wisdom, like this observation:

    "There are many theories about the cause of depression: chemical imbalance, childhood trauma, heredity. The list is long. But none of these compare to growing up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin."

    This is an achievement — the filmmaker manages to belittle a serious affliction and a perfectly respectable Midwestern town in one sentence.

    It's not unimaginable that one could make a funny comedy about depression and suicide (wait, I got one: "Harold and Maude"), but you'd have to be really, really sharp to pull it off. Parness is not the guy to do it. "Max and Grace" tends to paint him as a tourist in the land of mental illness, sitting in the air-conditioned tour bus of his mind looking out the windows at the people below and scratching his head for clumsy jokes. What he lacks in compassion and awareness, he consistently fails to make up for in cleverness.

    JUNE 6, 2005
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK


    Reader comments on Max and Grace:

  • You've got to be kidding, this is a great film   from Max Klinger, Jun 15, 2005
  • [no subject]   from , Jul 26, 2005
  • HOTTIE   from Alex Jacklyn Jr., Jan 25, 2006

  • Post a comment on "Max and Grace"