The Pallbearer (1996)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Comedy of Errors, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - May 3, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Karl Williams

Clearly intended to be a Generation X version of The Graduate (1967), this dark comedy is a notable debut for writer/director Matt Reeves. An intelligent attempt at a meaningful examination of the slacker set, Reeves' picture belongs pretty much in the same league with other good examples of that 1990s subgenre: Singles (1992), Reality Bites (1994), and Before Sunrise (1995). While thankfully avoiding the annoying blitzkrieg of pop culture references that often punctuate slacker cinema, The Pallbearer (1996) is no less obsessed with the iconography of mass media, employing its fixations with more subtlety. David Schwimmer is engagingly funny in his debut as a neurotic leading boy/man even as he overly channels his Ross character from the TV hit Friends, while Gwyneth Paltrow is a nice romantic foil, although her character remains slightly underdeveloped despite some hinted-at complexities. The film's biggest hurdle is overcoming a central character that is passive and acquiescent, a similar obstacle in other stories about members of what is seen as a reticent, gloomy generation. As much as any other filmmaker, Reeves succeeds in achieving a balance between representing his peers accurately and sticking to the rules of sound storytelling.