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"Harry & Max"
74 minutes | Unrated
LIMITED: Friday, April 29, 2005
Written & directed by Christopher Munch
Starring Bryce Johnson, Cole Williams, Rain Phoenix, Tom Gilroy, Michelle Phillips, Justin Zachary, Katherine Ellis
SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 10%
WIDESCREEN: NOT NECESSARY
As a very personal, character-driven story, the small-screen shrinkage here will be minimal.
Indie drama with little to say, 'Harry and Max' barely shrugs at incest, pedophilia
The title characters in "Harry and Max" are boy-band brothers, one washed-up and clinging to a solo career and the other just making his first Teen Beat cover -- but you wouldn't know it from the story, which has nothing to do with their so-called musical careers. It takes place in the days surrounding a fraternal-bonding camping trip in which sexual histories and other goings-on are brought to the surface, including incest between the siblings.
Curiously, writer-director Christopher Munch ("The Sleepy Time Gal") doesn't seem to think this is any big deal. In fact, despite over-writing and over-staging every scene for a maximum of shallow soul-plumbing, Munch tries incredibly hard to be very nonchalant about all manner of sexuality (not just incest, but pedophilia too) in an apparent attempt to demonstrate that his characters are at least as well-adjusted -- or maybe as screwed up -- as anyone else. Only the older brother's drinking problem seems to raise a red flag in Munch's talky-talk plot.
The lead performances by Bryce Johnson (WB's "Popular" and MTV's "Undressed") and Cole Williams (of ABC's "8 Simple Rules...") ring with authenticity -- if you grant the premise that these two are just everyday guys. But the film seems to be nothing more than an attempt to affirm a sense of I'm-OK-you're-OK normality for any viewers with such issues in their own lives.