Opens: May 3, 1996
"The Pallbearer" could have been better in many respects.
At times it seem like the plot -- about a aimless Gen Xer (David Schwimmer) being asked to eulogize a high school class mate he can't remember and falling back in love with the girl he admired from afar as a teen -- is driven by the soundtrack, that the director desperately wanted to use certain poignant love song so he altered the story around them.
An attempt at a Mrs. Robinson-style seduction by the dead friend's mother (Barbara Hersey) is more unpleasant and needy than it is funny. And the romance of the admired girl (the lovely Gweneth Paltrow) rings so much of pathetic obsession it's hard to understand why she falls for him in the end.
"The Pallbearer" isn't a complete loss. Schwimmer is appealing, although he seems incapable of any facial expression short of his trademark sorry basset hound look.
It is a very cute love story (it's a textbook example of a great date movie), and most of the supporting players (Carol Kane as the mother and Michael Rappaport as the best friend especially) provide a funny and life-like backdrop.
However, it isn't all comedy, as the trailers and commercials lead one to believe, and the more serious side of the story -- Schwimmer's insecurities, the lonely mother and the fact that the central death was a suicide -- don't play quite right. It's the kind of improper mix of funny and sad that makes an audience squirm in their seats.
The redeeming factor is definitely Paltrow's performance. She is a soft, endearing soul and the feelings move through her to the audience so effortlessly. She is one to watch -- a wonderful actress.
©1996 All Rights Reserved.