(X-)File Under F, for Freaky

Columbus Alive | April 28, 2005
The most interesting ingredient in David Duchovny’s appeal as a star is a touch of the freaky, from Mulder’s porn collection to the unnerving sexual energy the actor catalyzed with Garry Shandling on The Larry Sanders Show. For his debut as writer and director, Duchovny is still strange, but he’s also gone soft. He creates a story in which harsh reality is forced to coexist with saccharine sentimentality.

In the bookends to the central flashback, he plays Tom Warshaw, an American artist living in Paris who arrives very late to his son’s 13th birthday. The day triggers Tom’s memories of being the same age in Greenwich Village in 1973, a tumultuous period marked by his first love, tensions with his best friend, and his troubled mother (Téa Leoni, Duchovny’s wife), a nurse who’s taken to pills since the recent death of Tom’s father.

The actor’s natural charm (shared by Anton Yelchin as the younger Tommy) makes you forget for a while that Tom is so self-involved, his reminiscence about his own youth is more important than making it to his son’s birthday. On the other hand, another problem sets in immediately: Tommy’s best friend, Pappass, a mentally retarded janitor played by Robin Williams in Patch Adams mode. The two characters generate not a childlike spirit, but a juvenile one, with lots of middle school sex and urination jokes.

Surpassing his pal in emotional age, and afraid of upsetting his mother, Tommy finds advice on life where he can, from the film’s other big cringe inducement: a prisoner who yells out to him from a window in the neighborhood women’s house of detention.

Erykah Badu is fine in the part, as is everyone in the film except Williams, and the movie isn’t without warmth or humor (nothing beats the single kid screaming for Sabbath at a school dance). Yet trying to accommodate both the contrived scenario and the film’s out-of-control emotional range, then watching Duchovny romanticize a black woman in jail—that’s just too freaky.

Columbus Alive

Founded in 1983, Alive is the Capital City's oldest and only independent alternative and is known for providing a forum for the area's free thinkers. The paper's spirited and original perspective on music, arts and culture distinguish it from the...
More »
Contact for Reprint Rights
  • Market Served: Metropolitan Area
  • Address: 62 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
  • Phone: (614) 221-2449