Echo Park (1986) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna
|Tom Hulce is the guy who played Mozart in Amadeus, a film loved by critics, film buffs, and the academy. It was also a box office success, and is now considered #71 of all time at IMDb. Hulce himself was nominated as Best Actor, and might have won if not for an even better portrayal in the same film by F. Murray Abraham as Salieri.||
|Hulce wasn't able to do
anything with his temporary success. His triumph didn't have the
expected results, scripts didn't fall into his lap, and his next
theatrical film was this mediocrity about a neighborhood of LA where
everyone is trying to be a star.
Neither a dashing leading man nor an offbeat character actor, Hulce continues to be one of the perfect "everyman" actors, but these roles are not so common in Hollywood, where simple, real films are rarely seen. When those roles do come around, they now go to younger guys like Cusack and Broderick, so the multi-talented Hulce has never again attained the commercial or artistic successes of his earlier career.
This particular film seems to be a sitcom pilot, and is kind of cute, about equal in quality to a good episode of "Friends".
That's about all there is to it except corny speeches about not abandoning your dreams.
Hulce seemed like he was in a different movie from the rest of the cast. He was actually trying to create a meaningful characterization, reaching for the soul of his role, like the dedicated stage actor that he is, but the rest of the cast apparently really did think they were in a sitcom, playing everything for broad yucks accompanied by "Gilligan pulled another boner" music, and so the movie has that sitcom feel.
Tuna's comments in yellow.
People who did not
have the fortune (some say good, some say bad) to have lived in LA
county seem to have trouble with romantic comedies set there. The
culture in LALA land is outside most people's experience. Perhaps this
will help. When I was first married, we lived in an apartment in an
older neighborhood in Long Beach, comprising mostly retired people
(original owners of their houses) and students, most of whom attended
nearby CSULB. The neighborhood was known as Redondo Heights. One woman
in our complex was in her late 40s or early 50s, was a piano major at
a local junior college, and looked different. I am not sure if it was
her orange hair with green roots, or her habit of a morning jog
wearing men's boxer shorts and a pajama top that caught our attention,
but she was known to the rest of us as crazy Louise. The incident that
stands out most in my mind is the day I saw her on her hands and knees
crawling after a litter of kittens, saluting them, and calling them
sir. Now here comes the important part -- she was within the
boundaries of normal by LA standards.
Things pick up a little when she gets her first show business break as a stripping telegram. This is not really a film where much happens, but rather a low key character driven piece about these unlikely friends going about the daily business of surviving, and not giving up their dreams. While there are a few belly laughs, I spent most of the film just grinning broadly. Dey showed her breasts three times briefly, and walked around in underwear a lot. Hulce did a great job, as did John Paragon as the strippers promoter. Watch for Cheech Marin stepping out of his usual persona as the owner of a health club, and Cassandra Peterson (better known as Elvira) as his receptionist. Echo Park is not for everyone, and is probably a C, but I enjoyed it very much. The DVD transfer is not bad at all.
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