When Will I Be Loved (2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Scoop's comments in white:

A few preliminary notes:.

  • From the end of the opening credits to the start of the closing credits, it runs 73 minutes.

  • Out of that 73 minutes, about 15-20 minutes consists of material completely extraneous to the central plot. There are many time-killing cameos and improvised ramblings, but I'll cite only one detailed example: the female lead (Neve Campbell) meets Lori Singer in Central Park. The dialogue consists of such incisive questions as "aren't you Lori Singer?" and "is that your boyfriend?". The conversation seemed to be improvised. (It has that familiar unentertaining quality of actors not knowing what to say.) Our heroine also asked Singer, "are you still in show business?" OK, I was wondering the same thing myself, so it was realistic for the character to ask that, but what surprised me was the affirmative answer. At that point, I was thinking "so if you are still acting, why hasn't anybody seen you doing it in about a decade?" If Singer had said, "no, I quit to do charitable work and concentrate on my cello playing", I would have understood her agreement to do this scene, but to just flat out admit that she was still trying, and unable to get any role anyone would have noticed .... ? Why did Singer agree to participate in this humiliating exchange?

Anyway, that killed a bunch of time with no constructive purpose, as did several other largely improvised (and sometimes badly acted) encounters.

The central plot of the movie is this: our heroine is a rich girl living off her parents' money in Manhattan. Her boyfriend is a street hustler who does a bit of pimping. A rich and famous old Italian man sees the couple kissing before being approached by the hustler with various propositions. The old Italian geezer says, more or less, "Sorry, not interested in this other stuff, but I want to fuck your girlfriend."  The hustler sets it all up. The Italian man shows up with a check for $100,000. The girlfriend says, "don't insult me, come back when you have a more interesting offer." The old coot comes back with his dick in one hand and four shopping bags full of money in the other - a million dollars in cash altogether. The girlfriend sleeps with him and takes the money to the bank.

Now here's the twist. The girlfriend has been stringing both men along. She resents being sold by her boyfriend - and being undervalued by a multiple of ten to boot! She also resents another man thinking he can buy her. So when the boyfriend comes by for his commission on the sale, she says that the ancient fella had his way with her, but refused to pay her a penny. That leaves the two guys to settle things ...


Any more would be too much of a spoiler, but suffice it to say that the result is pretty unpleasant.

I have to say that this is just one of the sloppiest scripts ever written.

In addition to the 15-20 minutes of improvised, repetitive, and generally irrelevant crap, the main plot doesn't make a lot of sense either. The old guy walks into Neve's beautiful Manhattan apartment and he never stops to think, "shit, this woman has more money than I do!". He then proceeds to insult her by offering her a hundred thousand dollars for her favors. Yes, she was insulted and she should have been, but how could he not see this coming? This exact same premise made some sense in Adrian Lyne's Indecent Proposal, because the young couple in that film really needed the money when Bob Redford offered a million for a night with the wife, and the woman was therefore willing to do it for both of them. But the Neve Campbell character in this film doesn't need the money, and that fact is so immediately obvious that the rich Italian guy should immediately realize it, but doesn't.

I didn't much "get" one of the introductory scenes, either. Neve Campbell is being interviewed by a Columbia professor who is looking for an assistant. So ... Neve can afford to live by herself in a fabulous multi-million dollar home, and appears to be pursuing some kind of an art career, but she also wants to work in what is essentially an unrewarding low wage job? Huh? The annual salary from that job, after taxes, would be just about enough to cover her mortgage payment for a week. And it's not like she'd be an apprentice to the new Picasso. This guy is not an art teacher, but a professor of African-American studies. So why does she want this job?

What the hell is the deal with this movie?

Writer/director James Toback wanted to present his usual sociological explorations in the form of a muted thriller, but he really doesn't know how to write a thriller. He doesn't know how to direct one either. The big violent scene is completely unconvincing, and the pacing is best described as "rambling." The sound mixing is outrageously uneven. This film is just a big mess, and must have the most soporific female masturbation scene since The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea. In fact, the two films are strong contenders for the honor of the all-time most boring erotic film.

There are some positives:

  • The scene between Neve and the old geezer is actually pretty effective. The dialogue appears to be more polished and scripted than the rest of the film, or perhaps Dominic Chianese, as the rich Italian, is just better than the other actors at handling improv.

  • Neve herself is fairly solid in the lead role. She is not an actress with a big vocal range, but here she makes good use of her flat, expressionless voice and her generally impassive face to create a character which, while unpleasant, is consistent and reasonably credible. The advantage of her stoic personality is that a small change of expression at the right time can convey a lot, and she uses that to her advantage, especially in the film's final frames.

  • Neve certainly broke down on her former anti-nudity stance. It is an erotic role. She showers on camera, and finishes that shower by masturbating with the shower head device. She also does a lesbian scene behind a gauze curtain, and a sex scene with a guy, although neither of those scenes has any significant nudity.

It isn't worth driving out of your way to rent When Will I Be Loved, but the film may have some appeal to you as a curiosity item and, even though it is fundamentally boring, you can't really get all that bored in 73 minutes. Roger Ebert gave it four stars so, even though nobody else liked it that much, the film is obviously not totally lacking in appeal.

Tuna's comments in yellow:

When Will I Be Loved is abysmal. It is basically a rehash of Indecent Proposal, and that is one of the better things about it. Neve Campbell is moving into a high rent Manhattan apartment with her parents money. Her boyfriend, a cheap petty hustler, sets her up with a rich Italian Count about three times her age, hoping to get the $100K the count has offered for an evening alone with her. Rather than balk at the proposal, she decides to get even with both.

Most of the film consists of intercuts between stories that will eventually merge, insuring that no scene can ever build any momentum. Were it not for the intercutting, Neve Campbell's opening shower masturbation scene would really have been worth the watch, and is still the only thing of merit in the film. Apologies to those who seem to have found something else of merit here, but I entirely missed it. As near as I can tell, the entire film was adlibbed, and there was not a single person to like in this film.

The DVD includes a feature length commentary, and it easy to see how director James Toback made such a god awful film. His commentary is at least as bad. Introducing the isolated sex scenes in the special features, he admits that, after watching the film again, it wasn't really about what he thought it was.


  • Commentary by director James Toback

  • Scene sexplorations - interviews with Neve Campbell and director James Toback

  • Original theatrical trailer

  • widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1


  • Neve Campbell shows her breasts and buns in a shower scene.
  • Two unknown women show body parts in a four-way sex scene (one shows a breast, another her bum). The camera is quite far from the action.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Roger Ebert gave the film its very best review - a full four stars out of four.

  • Most critics didn't like it at all. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 32% of the reviews were positive.

  • Metacritic.com. estimates that the average critical score was about one and a half stars (39/100)

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It grossed about $160,000 in mini-arthouse distribution, reaching no more than 20 theaters.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even 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. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). 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. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "This is a C-. It is a very weak effort which may be watchable for those who worship Neve Campbell, and/or want to see her naked. Others should avoid it, because there is no other reason to watch it." Tuna says "D".

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