"Excuse Me for Living": No Excuses for This Drivel

Excuse Me for Living, sophomore writer/director and first-time producer Ric Klass' wracked therapy comedy, is neither so charming nor humane that it justifies lead actor Tom Pelphrey's consistent leering smirk. Pelphrey plays Dan, a cookie-cutter playboy who pissed away his potential in college and is now addicted to pills — the worst Ryan Reynolds character that Reynolds has never played. He maniacally spouts limp one-liners, takes his shirt off a bunch, and is never believably sincere. Forced into rehab by his philandering father Albert (Wayne Knight, the only actor who comes out of the film looking good), his joie de vivre is summarily rekindled by Dr. Bernstein (Robert Vaughn, looking lost), a kindly psychiatrist who makes Dan learn empathy by attending group therapy sessions for older Jewish men. Instead of developing this canned redemption plot, Klass jumps around to a handful of tangentially related, sub-sitcom-level romantic subplots, including one where Dan tries to hook up with Dr. Bernstein's daughter, Laura (Melissa Archer). No strand of Excuse Me for Living's frantic, unfunny, and pseudo-thoughtful narrative is well conceived. Klass never slows down to develop his characters, so events only happen because they need to in order to fulfill the basic needs of the story arcs, and every note that the film's neophyte multi-hyphenate auteur tries to hit rings false. Somebody might have preemptively halted Klass using the words of Dr. Bernstein, who warns Dan: "Please stop. I don't believe you." Simon Abrams

 
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