on March 05, 1997 by Lael Loewenstein
A hilarious, edgy and sardonic comedy, "The Daytrippers" was one of the highlights of this year's event, where it played to tremendous popular approval. That the film should have failed to walk away from Cannes with a distributor is one of the mysteries of the festival; it suggests that potential buyers were more influenced by a couple of well-placed but myopic critics than by the film's true market potential. Perhaps "The Daytrippers" was ignored for its resemblance to "Flirting With Disaster." Like that Miramax release, "Daytrippers" etches a blisteringly funny portrait of a dysfunctional family in the throes of a personal crisis. But "Daytrippers" has a spirit--and a surprise twist--all its own. Young, happy and in love, Eliza (a winning Hope Davis) and Louis ("Big Night's" Stanley Tucci) appear to be the perfect married couple. But, when Eliza discovers what appears to be a love letter in her husband's clothing, she seeks advice from her close-knit but eccentric family. They include her sarcastic sister Jo ("Party Girl's" Parker Posey, perfectly cast), Jo's pretentious novelist boyfriend Carl (Liev Schreiber of "Walking and Talking") and her parents Rita (a delightfully irrepressible Anne Meara) and Jim (Pat McNamara). The entire brood piles into the station wagon to confront Louis about the mystery letter. They arrive at Louis' office only to discover he's been given the day off. Scouring Manhattan to track him down, they stumble onto an eclectic, quirky (occasionally too quirky) collection of New Yorkers whose dilemmas seem to mirror their own.
   At moments, "The Daytrippers" blends the New York edginess and unpredictability of "After Hours" with the punctuated dialogue and impeccable timing of a British farce. Writer/director Greg Mottola keeps the action percolating briskly for 90 minutes, yet he never ventures so far into hyperbole as to lose the emotional humanity of the family. Amply aided by his outstanding cast (who play their roles so well they seem to have lived them), Mottola has created an impressive first feature that deserves to be seen. Starring Parker Posey, Hope Davis and Anne Meara. Directed and written by Greg Mottola. Produced by Nancy Tenenbaum and Steven Soderbergh. No distributor set. Comedy. Not yet rated. Running time: 90 min. Screened at Cannes.
Tags: Hope Davis, Anne Meara, Steven Soderbergh, Parker Posey, Greg Mottola, dysfunctional family, crisis, romance, marriage, infidelity, letter, mystery, Manhattan

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