A scene from 'Too Much Sleep'
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1/2* stars 88 minutes | Unrated
Opened: Friday, March 23, 2001
Written & directed by David Maquiling

Starring Marc Palmieri, Pasquale Gaeta, Nicol Zanzarella, Philip Galinsky, Judy Sabo Podinker, Gage Dehesa, John Stonehill

This film is on the Worst of 2001 list.


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Lazy, unengaging, amateur-hour slacker comedy follows dullard security guard looking for his gun

By Rob Blackwelder

Jack Crawford, the lazy 24-year-old security guard who spends the whole of "Too Much Sleep" looking drowsy and trying half-heatedly to find his missing gun, isn't half as lazy as David Maquiling, the writer-director of this fatiguingly mundane snoozer.

Maquiling lazily hired lazy, flavorless actors to play lazy, boring characters, and when they all deliver their dialogue like a lazy bunch of high school slackers in a Lit class, he's too lazy to shoot the scene again and demand more.

The movie is apparently supposed to be some kind of commentary on apathetic suburban malaise, so some of this indifference may be intentional, but if that's the case, it's hard to make the distinction between numbed characters and bad acting. Whatever the case, there's plenty of both.

The plot, what there is of it, begins when Jack (Marc Palmieri) gets distracted by a pretty girl on a bus ride home from his all-night rent-a-cop job. When she gets off the bus, he notices somebody swiped the grocery bag where he'd put his gun. He suspects the girl and gives chase, but not like he means it. He jumps off the bus, looks down the street in each direction, then seems to lose interest.

Jack goes to Eddie (Pasquale Gaeta) a friend's deli-owning, underworld Italian uncle for help and these two men go on a wild goose chase around the New Jersey 'burbs, running across a handful of what Maquiling clearly believes are amusingly quirky oddballs. The director lingers, and lingers, and lingers, and lingers on these utterly wooden encounters that easily distract Jack's gerbil brain from the task at hand and will likely inspire moans of "who cares!" from anybody watching this narcoleptic trifle of a low-budget, amateur-hour movie.

Not only are the performances utterly lifeless, the actors seem so uncomfortable, unengaged and under-prepared that "Too Much Sleep" feels like the first table reading of a dinner theater production. And the filmmaking is so inept it's distracting. When Jack finally catches up with the girl on the bus, then starts romancing her five minutes later, there's a scene in which he asks, "How do you define love?" The painfully obvious blocking of this scene -- the girl sitting under a willow tree with the setting sun over her shoulder -- is so blatantly staged that it actually overwhelms the dialogue, which isn't at all interesting to begin with.

The only engaging element in this entire picture is Gaeta -- a poor man's Joe Pesci -- as the quick-talking, always-talking Uncle Eddie. No matter what else is going on in the story, Gaeta is forever in the middle of regaling Jack with some tall tale of his life as a low-level operator. Gaeta was the only thing keeping me from wanting to jump through the screen and help Jack find his gun -- so I could shoot myself in the head with it instead of having to watch the rest of this movie.

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