Brian De Palma Roger Angell - Essay

Roger Angell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

A fatal air of insideyness and glorified amateurism infects ["Home Movies"], which is a low comedy about sex, ugly parents, and filmmaking. Almost everyone in the picture is making a movie or is about to appear in one…. [The picture] sometimes appears to be part of film sequences being explicated to a class…. The youthfully experimental and extemporaneous circumstances under which "Home Movies" was to be made must have convinced someone (perhaps Mr. De Palma) that it would be appropriate to make it a farce—a very bad decision indeed, because convincingly zany, knockabout comedy is one of the most difficult of all forms, requiring a sharp script, first-class acting, and rigorous cutting and pacing. None of these are in evidence in this picture, which counts heavily on its self-congratulatory amateurism and gawky charm to carry it past a great many rough places…. "Home Movies" will probably cause many a giggle among the film cognoscenti in its audiences …, but I wonder how many of them will smile about it afterward, when they're alone. The movie is too small and messy to qualify as a disaster. (pp. 148-49)

Roger Angell, "A Quilt of Horsemen," in The New Yorker (© 1980 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.), Vol. LVI, No. 13, May 19, 1980, pp. 143-44, 147-49.∗