Wednesday, September 30, 1998

The Impostors

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 1998 at 12:00 AM

To prove the theory that it takes a really good actor to effectively play a bad one, see chameleon Alfred Molina sink his teeth into Jeremy Burtom, a flamboyantly and deliciously hammy Shakespearean actor, in The Impostors. Writer-director Stanley Tucci wryly comments on acting -- from adopting a different identity to the desperate need for acknowledgment -- in this funny and light-hearted love letter to movie comedies of the 1920s and '30s.

For Arthur (Tucci) and Maurice (Oliver Platt), two starving actors in Depression-era New York City, the fact that this fatuous blowhard is one of the most famous thespians of the day is beyond depressing. The Brit, whose grandiose gestures match his bloated ego, represents everything they despise, yet they can't help but envy his success and public adoration.

It's a run-in with publicity-hound Burtom that leads this odd couple to stow away on the S.S. Intercontinental, a ship of fools who are trying to fool each other: A penniless society widow (Dana Ivey) wants to find her glum daughter (Hope Davis) a rich husband; on-the-make American con artists (Allison Janney and Richard Jenkins) pretend they're wealthy Euro-trash; and big band crooner Happy Franks (Steve Buscemi) is jittery and on the brink of suicide.

Worst is the outwardly gregarious first mate (Tony Shalhoub), who's really a revolutionary planning to blow up the ship. Can the good-hearted but inept Arthur and Maurice, with the help of the plucky head stewardess (Lili Taylor), save the day? What a question! The Impostors is an old-fashioned farce, rife with physical humor and packed with the kind of stock characters that populated movies like this in their heyday.

Tucci has written each role specifically for the actor playing it, and everyone involved throws themselves into their performances with gusto (Billy Connolly and Campbell Scott, in particular, display pitch-perfect comic timing).

But best of all is the Laurel and Hardy-like interplay between Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt. Whether involved in a staged café fight, practicing facial expressions, or masquerading as a married couple, their performances anchor this buoyant comedy, which is as airy and sweet as cotton candy.

Serena Donadoni writes about film for the Metro Times. E-mail her at [email protected].


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 19, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2022 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation