Courtesy Photo
92 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, May 8, 1998

Written & directed by Larry David

Starring Steven Weber, Craig Bierko, Karen Sillas, Robyn Peterman & Viola Harris

This film is on the Worst of 1998 list.
Insufferable Sour Grapes' proves 'Seinfeld' creator not ready for the big screen

I walked out on "Sour Grapes" after only 20 minutes -- right in the middle of a pregnant pause for a testicle joke, where the laugh track would have gone had this been a TV sitcom.

"Sour Grapes" is full of these pauses, and every one of them (at least every one of them in the first 20 minutes) was met by stone cold silence by the audience I was in.

There's a pause for the obnoxious grieving widow who makes a scene at a funeral. When two cousins (Steven Weber and Craig Bierko) and their girlfriends pile into a car to drive to Atlantic City, there's a pause after the widow asks her son why he'd want to go when "you can't even get a bagel there!" And another one after Bierko tells one of the girls not to eat an apple in the car because "I can't be in an enclosed space with fruit."

The pauses -- an blatant sign that a director hasn't been properly weaned from his TV roots -- can be blamed on Larry David, one of the creators of "Seinfeld" and the writer-director of this disaster. Clearly he was in a sitcom frame of mind when he shot "Sour Grapes," although he seems to have forgotten what the "com" part of the word is all about.

"Sour Grapes" is insufferable. Over-acted and under-produced, even the WB network would pass on this if it were offered as a series. Technically, it's a mess -- the sets are obvious sound stages and the lighting is washed out -- but the script and the acting are even worse.

The plot: In Atlantic City one cousin wins a slot machine jackpot after borrowing quarters from the other, then refuses to share the winnings.

Bierko plays the winner, who is a real loser. Punctuating even his most workaday dialogue with wild gestures and bugging eyes, he's saddled with Cosmo Kramer-style gags that must not have made the cut on "Seinfeld" and David saved them for a rainy day. His character's star quality, which the film visits ad nauseam, is his double-jointed ability to perform fellatio on himself. What a guy.

Weber is the cousin with the extra quarters. He's a wimp version of Jerry -- another character whose foundation is based in rejected "Seinfeld" material.

The girlfriends are variations on the Fran Drescher model of nasal, nagging New Yorkers and exist only to pad the picture with arguments and rim shots.

David's script and direction are so sophomoric that the only explanation for this film being released has to be that Castle Rock, the distributor of both the movie and "Seinfeld," felt obliged to him.

Usually when I give a movie a bad review, I smart off a lot in an attempt to salvage some of the experience with humor. But having to remember any of "Sour Grapes" is such an unpleasant experience, I just want to get it over with. And now I have.

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