Saturday, August 20, 2016

Rent Control

Rent Control; comedy, USA, 1982; D: Gian Luigi Polidoro, S: Brent Spiner, Elizabeth Stack, Jeanne Ruskin, Kimberly Stern, Annie Korzen, Leonard Melfi

New York. Leonard, a TV writer who is researching to make a show about a French period drama, is forced to live in the apartment of his sister-in-law and other family members after his divorce from Margaret, who moved with their daughter to some Canadian province in the far north. In order to persuade her to come back, or to find a new girlfriend, Leonard tries to find his own apartment in New York, but he is not able to find any affordable one. He meets Milton, a writer who discovered that Senator Hawkins' wife died after an affair with a lawyer, and tries to use that to scare off involved people from their apartments in order to get them for himself. However, Hawkins' driver finds out about this and beats up Leonard. Milton is killed. However, Milton's girlfriend, Anne, allows Leonard to stay at her place.

A moderately fun comedy revolving around the absurdities involving the impossible task of finding an apartment in New York, "Rent Control" runs out of ideas fairly quickly, though it at least is interesting for being an early movie in Brent Spiner's career, here acting as a comedian. "Rent" starts off really well, with several comic moments (when a police officer wants to give them a ticket for parking on the street, Leonard's sister-in-law quickly resorts to calling him "woman-hater" and "Your mother should have gotten a ticket for having you!"; when a friend asks him about his love life after the divorce, Leonard replies with: "Mono-sex"), yet becomes stale, monotone and routine after half an hour, with a very unexciting middle part, as well as an abrupt ending. The movie needed more good jokes, and more 'cool stuff' to edge its way from its overstretched and indecisive tone, yet it is so awkward that it has some almost surreal quality to it, with humor erupting into some of the most unexpected places, such as the riot sequence where Leonard is kidnapped by driver Stronsky and Stan in their car, which leads to one funny dialogue of absurd nervous state ("Stan... That stands for Stanislav, right?" - "Yes." - "Stanislav, the Polish king?" - "I guess..." - "He is Polish, right?" - "I don't know..." - "Polish, like the pope."). A tighter rhythm and a more focused approach would have helped, since the screenplay seems to have been incomplete by the time of shooting, yet it is still overall an easily watchable and moderately amusing little flick, with some probably enjoying it more than the others.


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