Something for Everyone, Everything for Someone

Despite the trippy acronym, FLIFF grinds away for more than a month

In The Grand, we are watching the slow dovetailing of many disparate narratives. Jack Faro wants to keep his casino and ingest lots of drugs. The German wants to play poker and murder animals. ("To strangle a goat!" he exclaims, "that makes you feel really alive!") Lainie Schwartzman (Cheryl Hines) wants to use the prize money for her family's future, and her brother Seth (David Cross) wants to prove himself to his dad. There are many more. In the Christopher Guest mode, the jokes get their punch from the juxtaposition of everyday inanity and crushing human frailty. Laughs die in throats as we witness Seth Schwartzman's attempts to interact with his father and Andy's brave smile as he promises to buy his wife a house "someplace warm." This is a movie about failure and the absurdity of the tiny defenses humans muster to ward it off.

Dennis Farina and Woody Harrelson could be contenders at the felt-covered table.
Dennis Farina and Woody Harrelson could be contenders at the felt-covered table.

Details

The 22nd Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

October 11 through November 14 at Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale; the Regal Cypress Creek Station 16, 6415 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale; and the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Center for the Performing Arts, 3100 Ray Ferrero Blvd., Nova Southeastern University Campus, Davie. Call 954-760-9898, or visit www.fliff.com.

The Grand October 19 at the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Center for the Performing Arts, 3100 Ray Ferrero Blvd., Nova Southeastern University Campus, Davie. Call 954-760-9898, or visit www.fliff.com.

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Which doesn't mean you'll leave feeling anything less than delighted. Again, as it goes in Guest flicks, there is a prosaic redemption at work in the characters' doings. Lainie's husband, Fred Marsh (played by a Ray Romano so neurotic you can barely recognize him), is a tool: A cataclysmically inner-directed, stay-at-home dad whose Fantasy Football games are more important to him than his wife's biggest-ever tournament. If this were any other movie, Lainie would leave him. In this one, she doesn't. She gives him a hug instead. She knows he's damaged, but who isn't? It's nice to see a movie that celebrates the humor — not the bravery, but the humor — in playing the hand you're dealt. Brandon K. Thorp

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