Way Off Broadway

As independent movies exploded in the 90s, there were a multitude of films about struggling artists/actors/musicians trying to navigate their way through jobs/life/love. There were so many of these movies that it just got annoying. As the decade wore on, apparently everybody got tired of these movies, and fewer of them came out. Way Off Broadway is the first one this reviewer has seen in a while. It does nothing to distinguish itself from the multitude of others, and because it comes out so much later than the rest, feels like a clone. The most important element of a film like this is personality, since very little typically happens. It has to be about memorable personalities and sparkling dialogue.

Way Off Broadway, the first film from writer/director Dan Kay, doesn't have much of this. There are a few biting conversations, but otherwise much of the film consists of forgettable dialogue uttered by five anonymous leads. In fact, aside from one character, it takes quite a while to match names to faces. The odd person out is Rebecca Moscowitz (Morena Baccarin, Roger Dodger, Perfume), struggling actress. The frustrating part of this film is that every time Kay strays from the dialogue and has something happen, it becomes decently interesting. Moscowitz has to deal with harsh, arbitrary criticism, and when she actually goes somewhere, she discovers that it comes with a price. Baccarin has a nice presence on screen, and she becomes the core of Way Off Broadway.

The other person to emerge as a central character is Darren Michaels (Brad Beyer, The General's Daughter, Sorority Boys), a struggling playwright. Struggling primarily because he cannot come up with a good idea, and when he does, nobody will give him a chance. Jay Green (Forbes March) claims that carpal tunnel syndrome prevents him from playing music, and he lazes around. The other two guys (Jordan Gelber, Changing Lanes, Riding in Cars with Boys, and Michael Parducci, Hit and Runway, Checkout) present, one to provide some comic relief and one for romantic tension, but their roles are a bit too fleeting to matter.

All five are facing the real world, and finding out that it sucks. They are all in their twenties, recently out of college, and not yet at the point where they need to compromise their ideals. They sit around, Friends-like, and talk about their lives and the things that happen to them. Again, not much happens for the bulk of the film, and for the most part, each person remains fairly anonymous. Things pick up when Moscowitz lands a small part, and everybody gathers to see it, and hit a high point near the end when she tries to audition for a play by Michaels, but at this point, it is too little too late.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 27 minutes, Not Rated but contains some language and sensuality, most likely an R, possibly a PG-13.

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