The Amateurs (2005)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Sex Comedy, Ensemble Film  |   Release Date - Dec 7, 2007 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Germany , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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The DVD back cover of The Amateurs makes the unusual (and potentially self-incriminating) decision to print a quotation from its star, Jeff Bridges, in the spot usually reserved for the kind of breathless critical praise that's truncated by ellipses and peppered by exclamation points. In that quotation, Bridges likens the The Amateurs to "if Frank Capra directed a porn movie," and he just may be onto something. There's an undeniable sweetness to this story about small-town shlubs pooling their collective pluck to make an adult film, and to call it Capraesque is not really exaggerating. That may be the only way for any light comedy to deal with the issue of pornography, because ultimately, these characters are just too darn nice to exploit another human. However, this doesn't mean that writer-director Michael Traeger's script can't occasionally indulge in its grin-inducing naughty side. The real key to the film's infectious tone is Bridges himself, who defies the medium's "show don't tell" mandate by submitting a steady stream of conversational narration. It's like the viewer is chatting with Bridges in his living room, as he entertains with humorous, self-aware asides about filmmaking; he welcomes his listeners rather than alienating them with esoteric industry-speak. After all, these are just plain folks with the contagious twinkle of Hollywood in their eyes, including the eminently likeable ensemble of Ted Danson, William Fichtner, Patrick Fugit, Tim Blake Nelson, Glenne Headly, Lauren Graham, and Joe Pantoliano -- this last playing the film's hapless director, affectionately known as "Some Idiot," or "Some" for short. For a concept that could have been too indie-clever for its own good, The Amateurs has a real, well, amateur's sense of humility. Not only does that remove it from the realm of the tawdry, but the film's crowd-pleasing good vibes are almost downright wholesome.