It’s happening again. Review enough films, and you start to see the same stories again and again. In Almost Paris, banking wiz Max (Wally Marzano-Lesnevich) returns to his small town home, while his kitchen in the big city is being remodeled. Or at least that’s the story he’s telling everyone. Truthfully, Max is returning home after losing everything during the housing market crash. That’s right, another returning-home-because-I-couldn’t-make-it-in-the-big-city story.
Max’s return is not a happy homecoming. His parents Richard (Adam LeFevre) and Claire (Susan Varon) are retired, but the down economy reeked havoc on their retirement, and the devastated the value of their home. It also doesn’t help that Max’s sister Lauren (Joanna Adler), unemployed husband Stephen (Ryan McCarthy) and young daughter Rose (Lily Henderson) are living with them too.
“…wants nothing to do with adult Max. How many coffees will it take before they sleep together?”
Then there is Max’s best friend Mikey-Mike (Michael Sorvino), whose marriage hit the skids thanks to some bad real estate advice they took from Max. And then there’s the girl. Ellie (Abigail Hawk), Max’s high school sweetheart, who wants nothing to do with adult Max. How many coffees will it take before they sleep together? You’re right.
With that comes a 90-minute journey of self-discovery and a lesson in the meaning of family. Have you seen this story before, I have. For me, it’s now six times in six months. I know it’s not director Domenica Cameron-Scorsese or writer/star Wally Marzano-Lesnevich’s fault that their story gets lumped in with the other similar films being released at the same time. But there’s an onus on the filmmaker to transcend the genre. Sadly, Almost Paris tells the same predictable story.
So the only hope Almost Paris has of being good is excelling in setting, dialogue, and acting. The best thing the film has going for it is setting. Taking place just after the worst of the financial crisis of 2008, Marzano-Lesnevich effectively weaves the impact of the crisis on every character and how it affected their personal lives.
“…there’s an onus on the filmmaker to transcend the genre.”
The main problem is dialogue and acting. Overall, the film runs on a steady stream of low energy, especially from lead Marzano-Lesnevich. I suppose this is also meant to be a comedy as well. While a bad choice would have the actors give an over-to-top performance, they went a little too far in the other direction.
The acting also comes across as a little too scripted and not natural. As the girl, Ellie, Abigail Hawk shines above the rest of the cast. Aside from the scripted dialogue, almost every scene and conversation started with some smart joking remark. Usually, it’s a put down of some sort. I know this adds to the realism of a scene, but after twenty minutes, it just got annoying.
By no means is this review a directive for all involved to quit filmmaking. The production, the writing, the acting were all on the cusp of a decent watchable movie. The script really needed a few more revisions in order to massage the overall story and provide dialogue the cast can work with. It was almost there.
Almost Paris (2017) Directed by Domenica Cameron-Scorsese. Written by Wally Marzano-Lesnevich. Starring Wally Marzano-Lesnevich, Susan Varon, Joanna Adler, Ryan McCarthy, Adam LeFevre, and Abigail Hawk.
2 out of 5 stars