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by Matt Forsman on Nov 11, 2005
Donal Logue first made waves in 2000 with the release of the comedy The Tao of Steve. Logue's performance in this film would lead to a moderately successful sitcom, "Grounded for Life". Logue returns to the big screen as a director with Tennis, Anyone?
In Logue's directorial debut we follow the adventures of two middling Hollywood actors, Danny Macklin (Donal Logue) and Gary Morgan (Kirk Fox) as they try to make sense of their existence via celebrity charity tennis tournaments. The premise itself is not earth-shattering and unfortunately, Tennis, Anyone? lacks much of the witty repartee and humor that was present in The Tao of Steve.
Danny and Gary initially meet during production of a film both have been cast in. While Danny is seemingly on top of the world, Gary's career has pretty much run its course. A shared affinity for tennis enables a friendship to develop between the two. A year later, Danny's fortunes have reversed. His wife has since left him and a series of poor decisions has left his career in ruins.
Naturally, the two team up and begin competing in the ridiculous world of "celebrity charity tennis tournaments". The two find themselves pitted against a grade "A" Hollywood prick, Johnnie Green (Jason Isaacs) and his crony, Nick Allen (Kenneth Mitchell).
The real saving grace of Tennis, Anyone? are the ridiculous performances of the plethora of "stars" who make cameo appearances throughout the film. Paul Rudd plays Lance Rockwood, an absurd, tennis playing porn star. Steven Dorff makes a comical appearance as tennis playing, country western singing, T.C. Jackson. But, the real standout performance is that of Gary and Danny's nemesis, Johnnie Green. Johnnie is truly a transcendent asshole and Isaacs clearly relished this role.
The real problem is that the film becomes much less compelling when Danny and Gary are onscreen. They are likable enough characters, but they aren't nearly as entertaining as the silly characters who only make cameo appearances at the celebrity tennis tournaments. This is problematic because the film really is about Danny and Gary.
The other problem with Tennis, Anyone? is a narrative that has no real clear direction. The pacing of the film is erratic. Large portions of the film are dedicated to bemoaning Danny's downfall which just becomes boring after awhile. It seems that Danny and Gary will eventually have some kind of showdown with Johnnie and Nick, but it doesn't seem like much is really at stake, so why should we care?
Gary states on more than one occasion that "tennis should be a joyous expression of life" You get the sense that Logue is trying to say something important about appreciating those things in life that are truly important, but he's not exactly sure what these things are. Is it tennis? Friends? Something else? Tennis, Anyone? is not a complete waste of time, but Logue's directorial debut is largely a meandering, mediocre film that has a few chuckle-worthy moments, but not much else going for it.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
by Matt Forsman on Nov 11, 2005