AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2010
By Don Simpson | November 14, 2010
Director: Barry W. Blaustein
Writer(s): Peter Himmelstein
Starring: Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Ben Schwartz, Judy Greer, Kate Mara, Ron Rifkin, Lesley Ann Warren, Nicolas Hormann
Peep World‘s family of four Meyerowitz siblings have a lot of pent up anger, most of which is deservedly directed toward the youngest of them all, Nathan (Ben Schwartz). Why pick on the baby of the family? Well, Nathan became rich and famous by exposing his family’s dirty little secrets in his best selling novel (and soon to be movie) Peep World.
Cheri (Sarah Silverman) — the sole sister and struggling actress — is the angriest of the siblings; in fact she is suing Nathan for libel. Then there is Joel (Rainn Wilson), a total fuck up who is being hassled by a pair of persistent loan sharks, but he can always rely on brother Jack (Michael C. Hall) to help him out. However, Jack — the eldest and presumably the most responsible sibling — is on the verge of losing his architecture practice, and maybe his marriage to his pregnant wife, Laura (Judy Greer).
Anyway… A large portion of the world has read all about the strange and perverted things that the Meyerowitz family has done in their lives, and now the entire family must reunite for dinner to celebrate their douchebag father’s (Ron Rifkin) 70th birthday. Also included in the birthday dinner celebration are their mother (Lesley Ann Warren) and her new husband (Nicolas Hormann), their father’s young girlfriend (Alicia Witt), Nathan’s publicist (Kate Mara) and Cheri’s Jews for Jesus pseudo boyfriend (Stephen Tobolowsky).
There are a few solid jokes thrown into the mix, but otherwise that is all Peep World has to offer; which is quite disappointing considering the all-star cast. Probably the most interesting aspect of Peep World is that many of the actors are cast in roles that are somewhat outside of their comfort zone (and they all appear to succeed in acting against type). Unfortunately, the four Meyerowitz siblings are one-dimensional caricatures, so the cast does not have a whole lot of material to work with.
Essentially, director Barry W. Blaustein’s Peep World plays like an elongated (90 minute) pilot for a sit-com in the vein of Arrested Development. We are given a fleeting taste of something greater, as if several more episodes are coming, but unfortunately, that is not the case. Peep World’s worst fault is the unfortunate, far too explanatory narration by Lewis Black. During his Q&A after the 2010 Austin Film Festival screening, Blaustein commented that he did not have final cut on Peep World — the narration was not in his version of the film, and it also sounds like Blaustein’s version was far less comedic. I actually did not mind the comedic elements (even the erection sequence — though very contrived — works fine); I just craved more character development. This cast combining Silverman, Wilson and Hall had so much promise…so many possibilities…