Film Threat archive logo


By Merle Bertrand | May 18, 2000

Foster Brooks was the last really funny drunk. Joining the late cult star of the old Dean Martin celebrity roasts for a good stiff drink would’ve been a good way to pass the time while vainly waiting for this furiously treading water black comedy to get untracked. Lionel “Ex” Exley (Campbell Scott) might make a better golfer if he’d just get off the sauce. Then again, like a relaxed drunk who painlessly tumbles down a flight of stairs, maybe it’s because the rising pro golfer is usually three sheets to the wind when he tees off that he does so well. In any event, a post-tourney DUI exacerbated by a clumsy attempt to bribe the arresting officer results not only in some jail time for Ex, but his expulsion from the PGA tour as well. He returns to his native New Orleans after his release, a move not unlike hiring a pedophile at a day care center, and there meets W. Firmin Carter, a highly successful and equally suicidal lawyer who matches Ex glass for bourbon-soaked glass. While Firmin’s connections lead his new golf-sharking drinking buddy to meet two sexy high-society sisters, Rachel (Laura Linney) and Ashley (Laurel Hollomon) Van D**e, Ex seems more at home sucking down beers at a neighborhood dive. Then again, Ex is in his element wherever alcohol is found, which might prove to be his undoing. When Firmin, after a bar-side offer to name Ex as his insurance benefactor, mysteriously disappears following a particularly comprehensive drinking binge, Ex suddenly finds himself the main suspect. The main problem with Mark Gibson’s film is that it simply takes way too long to reach this pivotal plot point. Even when it does, there’s never really any urgent sense that Ex is in any real danger. Gibson burns up more time showing the alcoholic duffer moodily trying to find himself than anything else. This has the unfortunate side effect of making “Lush” more watered down more than a comedy club cocktail and turning it into a touchy-feely film about the importance of family and growing up. Not unnoble themes, by any stretch of the imagination, but oddly out of place in what at first aspired to be a raucous comedy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon