BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
DECEMBER 7, 201O
Star of “All the Real Girls” Paul Schneider makes his directorial debut with the independent film “Pretty Bird,” starring Paul Giamatti and Kristen Wiig. Billy Crudup leaves much to be desired playing the overly excited and misguided Curt, who enlists an old friend, turned mattress salesman, Kenny (David Hornsby of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”), into financing a conceptual rocket-powered belt. Once Kenny’s business is successfully strained by finances, Curt must find a willing soul to build the belt from scratch. Rick (Paul Giamatti) is that poor soul.
Most of the film’s drama stems from the strained relationship between Curt and the old-fashioned Rick. Curt appears childlike and utterly reliant on those around him to produce his desired concepts. Practically an elementary school entrepreneur, Rick sees straight through Curt’s bravado (or lack thereof), but with no other options, Rick gets forced into attempting the rocket-powered belt. When the belt starts to show actual potential, Curt buckles under pressure and does what he does best, mess everything up.
Paul Giamatti has become another go-to actor to fill various parts in small independent films, gracing “Cold Souls” just a year following “Pretty Bird.” Seeing how the small film (turned cult classic) “Sideways” helped Giamatti’s storied career, Giamatti is a man that can fill just about any part in a movie and appear perfectly natural, consistently delivering a spot-on performance.
For Paul Schneider’s first time in the director’s chair, “Pretty Bird” comes off spotless and completely sound. Off-beat humor most likely stems from Schneider’s nature and his past performances. On the other hand, the other actors of “Pretty Bird” are either overshadowed by the presence of Paul Giamatti or abrasively lacking, especially Billy Crudup’s character, which ultimately makes the film hard to attempt multiple viewings. Yet “Pretty Bird” opens the door for future successes for director Paul Schneider and becomes the first of hopefully many feature films with his name attached.
January 20, 2008
(for language and a scene of sexuality)