Fast Sofa (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Major spoilers

Fast Sofa was meant to be an off-the-wall road trip picture, combining lowbrow comedy with some serious underlying themes. To some extent, it succeeded, but it was severely weighted down by the heft of its own mannered eccentricity.

It stars, in fact, the king of mannered eccentricity, the ageless Crispin Glover, who seems to be playing the same parts he played decades ago,  the awkward, uncool, androgynous guy with the unnaturally over-refined speech pattern, a wounded man even on the surface, and with an additional reservoir of unspecified vulnerability. Here he first appears as a panhandler, hanging around a fast foot joint in an Oscar Wilde suit with one of those giant bow ties. He first tries to make conversation with a customer, with a suave opening line, "is that a refreshing Pepsi you're drinking?". We find out that he was raised in a man-made aviary by his mother and father, who were both ornithologists, and he has never been with a woman in his life. In fact, he has never even masturbated! That's not all. He's never driven a car either. His conversational skills are limited to topics involving birds. He gets blown off several times in the course of his clumsy panhandling, but eventually his persistence pays off. He gets some money for food, he gets a ride home, and then invites himself on a road trip.

The guy who accompanies him is Jake Busey, playing a sloppy, hedonistic, perennially stoned fellow who is currently between jobs, apartments, and girlfriends. As an alternative to working toward any of the three, Jake is living out of his beat-up jalopy, and heading to Palm Springs to shack up for a night with a porn star he met back in L.A. (Jennifer Tilly).

The boys have a few laughs. Glover goes bowling without removing any parts of his suit. Jake gets beat up by the brother of an underage girl he seduces (Bijou Phillips), and exacts a terrible revenge. Glover gets laid for the first time. Glover returns to the aviary where he grew up only to find it has been bought out by a chain pet store, and that the new owners are keeping the powerful predatory birds in tiny little cages. Glover drives for the first time.


Jennifer Tilly shows her breasts in a sex scene.

Tina Marie Clifford shows her breasts in a strip act.

Jake Busey shows his buns.

That wasn't so bad. It was funny in stretches, and sporadically entertaining. It could even achieve a bit of eloquence on its own terms. Unfortunately it suffered from four problems:

1. a sadly uneconomical script. There is a virtually unexplored subplot about Jake's girlfriend making out with his best friend. Those two characters were neither funny nor interesting, and the entire subplot could have been cut with no loss except running time.

2  a bad case of weirder-then-thou syndrome. Not only were the main characters (Busey, Glover, Tilly, and Eric Roberts as a porn producer) all over-the-top, but they didn't seem to have enough humanity to get us sympathetic to them, possibly excepting Glover, who made his character so pathetic and lost that he reached for bathos. I did like the scene where he got laid and then set a hawk free, as he himself was becoming free. Busey was funny now and then, and the character showed himself to be a decent man by his protective adoption of Glover, but Busey looked and acted completely disgusting, and really couldn't evoke any identification.

3. excessive and distracting technique. The weird characterizations were matched by all sorts of seemingly unnecessary pyrotechnical tricks - split screens, multi- screens, trick lighting, floating inserts, etc.

4. no solution for the age-old dilemma how how to end the road trip. I was really disappointed with the resolution, which ended tragically for Glover and just stopped in the middle of nowhere for Busey. I needed my catharsis, and the tragic ending seemed out of character with 1) the goofy comedy which dominates 90% of the film 2) the rays of hope which shone through for Glover. When we first met the character, it seemed that death would have been a sensible alternative for a character who didn't seem to have a place in life, but just as Glover seemed to be accommodating himself to reality, just as we started to make contact with him, he lost it all.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen letterboxed 1.85:1

  • no meaningful features

I think this might have been a pretty good comedy with a touch of poetry  -  if it could just have stopped being weird once in a while and just acted ... decent and human. But it didn't make it.

It had potential, and some selling points, but couldn't close the sale.

Tuna's Thoughts

It is a sort of road trip buddy film, but riddled with weird visual effects, no pace, and useless sub-plots. Scoop found some moments of enjoyment. I must say that I was unable to find any humor or points to enjoy. Further, the cinematography was third rate at best. This is a DVD that really needed a commentary. I will be charitable and assume that the director had some reason for the way he shot and cut this film, but I am at a total loss.

I can't give this more than a D. I can't imagine anyone actually wanting to see this, even without the constant inserts, VHS quality segments, light swirls. etc.

The Critics Vote

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The People Vote ...


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. (Tuna: D) It was OK for a lowbrow road trip comedy, I guess. I was able to watch it without an urge for the fast forward button, but I didn't enjoy it, and it missed its chances at the brass ring.

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