|January 20, 2008|
Rated R for language and a scene of sexuality
All The Real Girl‘s star 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 salesmen, 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 completely reliant on those around him to produce the concepts he desires. Practically an elementary school entrepreneur, Rick sees straight through Curt’s bravado (or lack there of) but with no other options Rick is forced into attempting the rocket-powered belt. When the belt starts to show actual potential, Curt buckles under the pressure and does what he does best, messes 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 film and appear perfectly natural, always delivering a spot-on performance.
For Paul Schneider’s first time in the director’s chair, the presentation of Pretty Bird comes off spotless and completely sound. There is an off-beat humor that most likely stems from the apparent humor of Schneider and his past performances. The performances of Pretty Bird, on the other hand, are either overshadowed by the presence of Paul Giamatti or abrasively lacking, especially in the character played by Billy Crudup, who 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.