Break a Leg Relelase Date: 2005 Genre: Comedy | Drama | Thriller Director(s): Monika Mitchell Writer(s): Frank Cassini & John Cassini Starring: John Cassini, Eric Roberts, Frank Cassini, Jennifer Beals, J.J. Johnston, Sandra Oh Break a Leg has such an awesome premise behind it that should have been turned into a great movie. That did […]

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Break a Leg
Relelase Date: 2005
Genre: Comedy | Drama | Thriller
Director(s): Monika Mitchell
Writer(s): Frank Cassini & John Cassini
Starring: John Cassini, Eric Roberts, Frank Cassini, Jennifer Beals, J.J. Johnston, Sandra Oh

Break a Leg has such an awesome premise behind it that should have been turned into a great movie. That did not happen. The blame falls in several areas, but for the most part, it’s the complete lack of competent character development for any and every character in the movie that keeps it from succeeding.

Struggling actor Max Matteo (J. Cassini) has been in L.A. for much of his adult life. Now in his thirties, the big break has still not come to him. Things are looking up, though, as he and a handful of other actors have scored a final callback for a career-making role in a Hollywood movie. After his final audition goes well he heads to the bathroom, where he stealthily hides in a stall when the two casting agents walk in the door. The two literally have a pissing contest to decide whom to cast; Max or soap opera actor Tony Felice (F. Cassini). Lo and behold, the pisser who picked Tony goes the longest. Max, finally at his wit’s end after years of not being appreciated, snaps. He cracks one of Tony’s legs in a parking garage, and a silly course of events plays out that ends with Tony’s death. With Tony dead, and no one actually aware that Max knew Tony would be getting the part, he’s given the part. This sends his career in an upswing that, as things go, eventually leads to his downfall.

Right around here is where Break a Leg fatally trips up. The movie goes onto have too many characters and contrived sequences for its own good. Jennifer “Princess” Beals plays Max’s friend whose frustration with the acting business comes to its peak when a broken leg kills her big chance to breakout. Shortly thereafter, Molly Parker is introduced as Kate, an actress on a condom billboard that begins to date Max. Now let me pose this question. What’s the point of there being two females in main roles? Beals kind of disappears halfway through the movie, and Parker demonstrates a complete lack of charisma. I don’t know, maybe director Monika Mitchell told her to act like she was frozen in stone. If so, then I take back my negative comments about her. As for Beals, I think her sole purpose in the movie is so there is a sense of irony (or some other literary device) when Max cracks Tony’s leg. Whatever the case, there’s no reason for her to be in the movie.

Now let’s talk about where the story goes from where I left off. Despite the fact that the detectives admit that it is a very weak lead with absolutely no evidence behind it except Max having a cold stare, the two detectives in charge of Tony’s murder case convince (not even convince, they just kind of say they want to do it and he agrees) their chief to let one of them go undercover as an actor. J.J. Johnston is probably the one great actor in the bunch, playing the naturally charismatic Detective Coyle. Johnston brightens up the screen when he gets the chance to demonstrate his talents, but that doesn’t change the fact that the whole subplot is ridiculously stupid and poorly written. Speaking of lighting up the screen, Sandra Oh from “Grey’s Anatomy” puts in a day’s work for a quick scene as the typical hothead agent. Once again, she’s great in the role, but even the punchline to that scene is weak. Here’s a hint for the screenwriters. You don’t “remake” a TV show. Jesus Christ.

You want more? Okay. Eric Roberts shows up for two scenes as a cocky actor who Max pushes down a flight of stairs after suspecting that he will get a role that he wants. Roberts, who is usually wonderful in most of his roles, is God awful in both of his scenes. I also have to question the reasoning behind even having Max go after another actor, as it takes the character from “nice guy who made a mistake” to “lunatic who is played by an actor that doesn’t know how to act.’ Lastly, even more time is needlessly wasted on a couple of Max’s actor friends. Ohhh no, the waiter’s girlfriend dumped him! Why the fuck am I supposed to care when it’s never mentioned again and doesn’t play into the plot one bit?

So yeah, the first act isn’t bad, J.J. Johnston and Sandra Oh are wonderful, and the phone gag at the end isn’t bad. That’s it.
DVD: Director Monika Mitchell and the writing/acting tandem of Frank Cassini and John Cassini contribute two separate commentary tracks. Here’s the thing. When an independent film is shot in the Los Angeles with a $500,000 budget, competent people are hired to handle production matters. As a result, few set disasters and the like occur, so the director is left with nothing to do but heap praise on the cast members. That’s the case with Monika Mitchell’s track. As for the writers’ track, I figured that it wouldn’t be too awful since both Frank and John Cassini had roles in the film, with the latter being the star. I only survived for a half hour before I grew tired of it all.

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Break a Leg, 6.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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