Hit and Runway

on April 17, 1999 by Paul Clinton
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   An odd-couple screenwriting team sets out to create an action script that will write their ticket to Hollywood in "Hit and Runway," a modest comedy that might have come from the typewriter of Woody Allen (if he was gay).

   Italian, blue-collar Alex (Michael Parducci) and Jewish, homosexual Elliot (Peter Jacobson) bump into each other in Greenwich Village as they are following their own paths as struggling writers. To give the two a credible reason to stay together, screenwriters Jaffe Cohen and Christopher Livingston endow Alex with an industry connection--a family friend with inroads to a big-shot producer (a sharp J.K. Simmons)--and Elliot with the writing talent.

   Livingston, an NYU film school graduate making his directorial debut, and Cohen, an openly gay comic, have made a labor of love about the creative process, in which Alex and Elliot, through their bickering and verbal brawls, actually manage to write a marketable script. The comic set-up is fairly reminiscent of 1975's "The Sunshine Boys."

   To their credit, the writers resist using Elliot's sexuality to preach open-mindedness. They derive some comedy from the gay vs. straight battle, but the movie is more about the personalities of the two writers--one a dreamer, the other a pragmatist.

   The performances from the lead actors show promise, especially Parducci, who has the tougher role. He takes Alex on a journey for greater knowledge of self, while Cohen's Elliot is a twitchy neurotic.

   The movie has its faults, one being an ending that can only be described as protracted.

   As a director, Livingston doesn't embarrass himself. He shows he can light a room. Many of the interiors seem to be shot in his or a friend's home. You can't fault him for that; he's working on a shoestring budget. Livingston also proves he can handle comic material, using a crisp editing style.

   The high-concept title refers, on one level, to the big action finale in the script-within-the-script.    Starring Michael Parducci, Peter Jacobson and Judy Prescott. Directed by Christopher Livingston. Written by Christopher Livingston and Jaffe Cohen. Produced by Christopher Livingston, Andrew Charas and Chris D'Annibale. A Lot 47 release. Comedy. Not yet rated. Running time: 106 min.

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