1/22/17

SOUR GRAPES - REVIEW


The only film to date to have been both written and directed by Larry David, Sour Grapes is a comedy from 1998 starring Steven Weber and Craig Bierko as two cousins whose relationship quickly goes down the drain when one of them hits the jackpot in a casino using the other's quarters.

Despite the film's fun premise and the decent cast involved, Sour Grapes failed at the box-office, was hated by critics (including Roger Ebert) and even Larry David himself isn't too fond of it these days. The negative reaction after its release combined with the mean-spirited nature of the film itself is probably why Sour Grapes is as forgotten as it is. The comedy does admittedly have its share of problems. One highly unlikely plot thread, for example, sees Bierko's character scheming to scare his own mother to death by giving her home keys to a homeless man when he finds out that he might be dying because... that would save her the pain of seeing him get increasingly worse health-wise? It makes little sense and even if the idea is funny, it just comes off as forced.

It doesn't help that the film is written and shot like an extended sitcom episode: Larry David was clearly not too comfortable directing features just yet and failed to capture any kind of cinematic style with this first effort. On the plus side, there are some funny moments including a cheesy TV show title sequence poking fun at Friends, a testicle surgery gone wrong and everyone around the bickering cousins landing on one side or the other of the argument, with mixed results. Weber and Bierko clearly have a good time with this tit-for-tat battle and it is entertaining to see these guys get more and more greedy and petty. It's a shame that the script doesn't have much more to offer beyond that because there was certainly enough potential there for a memorably clever dark comedy.

As it stands, Sour Grapes is a bit of a let-down but those who enjoy Larry David's brand of humour should have a decent time watching it. It's certainly not the train-wreck its reputation would have you believe and you could do a hell of a lot worse comedy-wise.

Pretty pretty... pretty watchable.

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