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By Rory L. Aronsky | April 24, 2003

When you see a movie that is predictable from start to finish or throughout most of the running time, chances are that the filmmakers won’t do anything to compensate for it. You’ll sit there and guess most of what’s going to happen, be correct, and then it’s over. “The Stand-In” is heavily predictable, but it is so charming with its many characters that the predictability cancels itself out.
The film may have the participation of director Roberto Monticello, but “The Stand-In” really belongs to Robbie Bryan, who wrote the film based on his experiences in trying to become an actor and stars in it as Brian Roberts who is unsatisfied with his current path in life and believes he could become an actor. So he packs it all up and heads out to New York, much to the chagrin of his father (Dan Grimaldi) and his girlfriend Jennifer (Kelly Ripa) whose dream it was to attend law school with Brian and open a law firm with him one day. Of course, New York isn’t a friendly place for naïve aspiring actors who want to go at it immediately. Brian moves into a pretty crummy apartment and meets Alex (Ayo Haynes) who helps him get set up. After that, it’s time for the struggles that come with trying to get to what he wants to do, including working as an extra and becoming a stand-in for Mitchell K. Wolfe (David Heymann), based on Bryan’s experiences with standing in for Michael J. Fox.
For those of you not completely familiar with what a stand-in is, or have forgotten, it is someone hired to take the actor or actress’s place to go through his/her various scenes so that the director can confer with his crew members on what would be the best camera angles, lighting, etc. for those scenes. This is also to allow the principal actor/actress to go through make-up and hair and prevent them from having to be on their feet nonstop throughout the day.
The supporting cast is impeccable. David Ogden Stiers makes a cameo as a professor of Brian’s who believes he should pursue being an actor and Lou Myers is on hand as “Half-Step” Wilson, a former baseball player of the Negro Leagues who lives in a retirement home that Brian is in to film a scene for a soap opera. Ebony Jo-Ann plays Half-Step’s nurse who is just wonderful in the role. One of the best roles in the film is played by Daniel Margotta as Paulie Benadetto, who begins a partnership with Brian. Paulie seems like the kind of guy that’s worth hanging out with.
The DVD includes many good features including cast interviews with minimal back patting and more details on what it took to get the movie made. The audio commentary featuring Robbie and other people such as his then-fiancee (now wife) Christie and associate producer/actor Daniel Margotta, is a treat with one noticeable gap of silence and the rest of the time, it is filled with much information about the filming of the movie, among other things, and is a lot of fun. The bloopers/lost scenes are great as the bloopers include one with David Ogden Stiers. The lost scenes include no audio commentary, but it is pretty easy to see why they were cut out. The film’s trailer is also included.
This comedy is hilarious throughout and there’s always something good during each minute of it.

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