Ostensibly a screwball comedy, Tied to a Chair manages to be neither funny nor competently written, directed, produced or performed. The film shows Naomi (Bonnie Loren), a lovely, middle-aged British housewife, abandoning her long-suffering husband to pick-up the acting career she abandoned twenty years earlier to marry him. Her first stop is the Cannes Film Festival where she runs into a once noted director, Billy Rust (Mario Van Peebles, New Jack City), who made a film that everyone remembers. That was many years ago—now he's stalled. Unsuccessfully searching for financing and a lead for his new movie—which features a heroine tied to a chair—Naomi decides that she will get Billy the former and become the latter. All of this is silly, none of it is funny and it's not long before the whole film stops making sense altogether. This one will be seen by the filmmakers' families and friends and few else.
Naomi is the Lucille Ball type, right down to the flaming red hair and penchant for irrational thinking. As lovely as she is, Ms. Loren does not have the comic timing of Ms. Ball: her presentation is closer to an irritating Ally McBeal. Before long she's in Manhattan for a screen test and the next thing you know, Naomi's taken ten NYPD cruisers on a wild chase in a stolen cab.
This is not the most ludicrous diversion the film takes.
In short succession, Naomi is involved in a terrorist plot to set off exploding cabs all over the city. To stop this she engages her underworld contacts, including her father who is apparently a bookie for the mob. Suddenly Naomi has a Brooklyn accent and an entire history disparate from the character she was when the film began. Could her British accent and suggested nuptial con-job have been her idea of "acting?" There's something to this notion but given the wild excursions the film takes (Naomi suddenly speaks Arabic and faces down a group of terrorists while pulling off a mob sting for $5 million), one can hardly focus on the film's few considered, if not wholly rational, moments.
In addition to being incoherent and not very funny, the film seems to be improvised, and badly so. If this is not true we apologize. Whatever the case, the performances range from poor to perplexed. Mr. Van Peebles seems to be particularly surprised to be in a film. It's as though he walks into a scene and spends his time there saying things to make sense of the circumstances, but the circumstances never achieve any sense. Perhaps as a last resort, he ends some scenes by literally napping in scene.
We had the same inclination.
Distributor: Process Studio Theatre
Cast: Bonnie Loren, Mario Van Peebles, Robert Gossett, Sayed Badreya
Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Michael Bergmann
Running time: 95 min.
Rating: Not Rated
Release date: May 20 ltd.