In the literary hotbed that is Los Angeles, a group of diverse, unpublished writers have their own get-together that involves them reading each other’s potential work. Among them are young, F. Scott Fitzgerald loving, pizza delivery driver Henry Obert (Chris Klein), the older Tom Clancy fanatic, decorated war veteran John K. Butzin (Dennis Farina), Charles Bukowski wannabe William Bruce (Jonathan Bennett) and husband/wife team Alan (Dylan Walsh) and Colette Mooney (Teri Polo), the former an optometrist/leader of the group and the latter a Danielle Steel wannabe.
The group invites a young aspiring writer, Hannah Rinaldi (Kaley Cuoco), into the group. She has no college degree and hasn’t even heard of The Great Gatsby (much to Obert’s obvious surprise). She just writes from the heart, as she says. So, naturally it comes as quite a shock to everyone within the group when Rinaldi’s the first to get a book deal. Wanting their own shot at fame, the remaining five members go out of their way to achieve overnight success.
How this film got even a limited theatrical release, I will never ever know. What a waste of talent, both from television and film.
Director Ellie Kanner and debut screenwriter David Congalton try make some semblance of a satire on writers, set within a trite mockumentary style structure (both should’ve taken lessons from Christopher Guest on how to do it right), yet there’s nothing clever or funny here. Kanner and Congalton just waste the talent given to them on foolishly inept characters and a predictable story. Predictability doesn’t always equate unfunny. Sometimes a film can compensate its predictable plot with good characters and funny situations. Nope, not here.
I’m not sure why the filmmakers chose to go with the mockumentary route. It’s not only an overdone concept by now, it really serves no purpose here. Shooting this as a straightforward comedy would’ve been a better fit. Then again, with characters, dialogue and story as bland as it is here, I’m not sure either format would’ve mattered. The film would’ve sucked either way. Plus, there are moments within the film that contradict the documentary format such as multi-camera footage. As overplayed as the mockumentary has become, it’s even worse to fall back on inconsistency.
It’s too bad that talented performers and a concept ripe for satire (aspiring writers) are ultimately wasted. Kaley Cuoco is her usually cute self, but her ditzy character commits some pretty heartless actions to where you wonder what a nice guy like Henry would see in her (a romantic angle that has no spark, chemistry or point at all) to begin with. At times, Dylan Walsh and Teri Polo look like they’re struggling to come up with anything for their characters. Mostly they fail to generate any humor, with one exception. When Jonathan Banks’s literary agent shows up for an eye appointment, Walsh brings up a segment from his wife’s book on the exam board for him to read. Rare moments like that work, and I do emphasize rare. Everything else in between is just the characters going to more desperate measures to achieve overnight success like Hannah, and it just makes you like them even less.
While most of the characters are just flat, stereotypical takes on their respective literary cliques, the late, great Dennis Farina gives at least some life to his Tom Clancy obsessed John K. Butzin. Farina does what he can with what’s given him and it was his character that I was most interested in. Well, the only one I had any interest in. However, the film that surrounds him is so bad, I can’t even enjoy what he brings. It should be a crime that such an underrated, invaluable character actor like Dennis Farina had this waste of a film as his curtain call. His talent deserved better.
Kaley Cuoco is funny and adorably charming on TV’s Big Bang Theory. Dylan Walsh has done solid work in both film (Nobody’s Fool) and TV (Nip/Tuck). Jonathan Banks played one of the best characters in Breaking Bad. Teri Polo and Chris Klein also have talent. They deserve better as well.
Authors Anonymous could’ve been a biting take on the literary and publication world, but ends up as just another routine, humorless, by-the-books dud that should be featured at the very bottom of a Redbox within no time. While there are a few satirical crumbs thrown on the floor our way, overall this film falls back on being as horrendously idiotic as its characters It features a talented cast, but no one, with the exception of Farina, gets anything to work with, so it’s hard – if not impossible – to appreciate the talent they do possess.
I give Authors Anonymous a D (★).
Review source: http://silverscreenfanatic.com/2014/04/18/authors-anonymous/