"The Time Has Come to Act."
Well, dear readers, "The Impostors" is an homage to 1930's style slapstick comedies, directed by Stanley Tucci and starring all of his very famous friends. It tells the story of two down-on-their-luck actors, Arthur and Maurice, who accidentally piss off a revered (read: "hack") Shakespearian actor. They are chased aboard a luxury ocean liner where they disguise themselves as stewards to avoid their pursuer, and untangle themselves from several subplots that threaten the lives of every person on board.
It's GOOFY and I LOVE it.
Now this film might not pique your interest - it got mixed reviews at Cannes when it premiered in 1998 - but there's a certain pocket of you who love stuff like this. Films that not only make you think about the human condition, that make you think about the nature of entertainment, but also set out to genuinely ENTERTAIN its audience. Above everything else, this film sets out to give its audience a good time. And I think it succeeds.
Still around? Pop a bottle of champagne and join us as we look at this refreshing passion project. Be forewarned - the drinking game accompanying this review is none too shabby either.
"The Im-plasterd-s": The Rules
1. Drink for title drops. That's every time someone says the word "Imposter" or "Imposters".
2. Drink when they drink.
3. Drink for Daddy Issues.
4. Drink when the film gives you a title card to open a scene. You know, silent movie style.
5. Drink when someone pretends to be someone else / drink for the act of "performance". Ah, but what does it mean to perform? We'll discuss.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when you see someone smoking. It's the 1930's, remember.
2. Drink when you see someone with a weapon. Improvised weapons count, but only if they're used.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when you see someone running.
2. Drink when Arthur and Maurice mutter things to each other.
Krissy Pappau: The hapless hero (Medium)
Pooh Daddy: Her trusty pal (Easy)
Bride of Buggerlas: A gay young lady (Easy)
Champjagne Austgin: The deposed queen (Easy)
Some Guy: The mysterious stranger (Medium)
Dame Poppy Middleton: The rich baroness (Medium)
Shirley Whiskas: The lounge singer (Hard)
Dijan deNero: The put-upon steward (Hard)
Velma Jinkies: The amiguously homosexual tennis star (Hard)
All the World's a Stage
By the time our main characters wind up on the ocean liner, all semblance of "reality" has been thrown out the window. The characters that pepper the cruise are stark, bold archetypes, made even more cartoonish because they're mostly played by famous people. The setting is transferred from New York exteriors to what is clearly a sound stage meant to look like a ship. As Pooh Daddy points out, they never attempt to cover up the fact that they aren't actually on a boat. Moreover, it's gradually revealed that most of the characters are either disguised as other people, or struggling with the masks they've created for themselves for everyday use (the crooner Happy Franks, for example, can't keep up his smooth Sinatra-esque persona now that he's divorced, heartbroken and suicidal).
This is a movie about artifice, but not just the stage artifice that we're used to as audience members watching movies. It's also about the masks we wear as we go about our business in the world, from the more overt performances to the tiny expressions we adopt for any situation that might arise. According to "The Impostors", EVERYONE is an actor.
All About that Busch
Enter Steve Buschemi.
(As a side note, Steve, if you're reading this somehow, you came into a bar I was working at once and left pretty quickly because you were just too famous and cool to have drinks there with your friends unnoticed, and I want to apologize on behalf of every stupid person there. You're great. Keep making art and being awesome.)
Buscemi isn't the only one who gives a stand-out performance in this film. Folks like Tony Shalhoub, Allison Janney and frickin Isabella Rossellini will have you laughing your head off. We also had a soft spot for Matt McGrath as the sweet-tempered Detective Marco, a man who wouldn't hurt a fly who is charged with killing Arthur and Maurice.
This is where Dame Poppy taught me about the term "cinnamon roll" when referring to a naive man who is too good for this world. And yeah, that's right. Detective Marco is a sweet, delicious cinnamon roll.
But Seriously, Watch This Movie
How do they do that? Maurice finds himself trapped under Voltri's bed as he contacts his superiors. He can't understand what he's saying, but luckily Voltri's words have subtitles - subtitles that Maurice can read reflected in the mirror underneath the bed.
Maybe that's why it didn't achieve more than a tiny cult following. There's not much to say about it other than it does its job well. It ENTERTAINS. It reminds its audience why we watch films in the first place, and it reaffirms the primary job of an actor: to tell a good story.
So all I can really say is watch it, watch it, even if you aren't wild about it you'll have fun. Watch it.
Drink whenever someone says something in a different language.
Some of the languages in this film are just plain made up, but it's still a rather cosmopolitan cast. Snatches of French, German and Italian can all be heard, sometimes all three in the same scene.
Drink when someone sings.
"Songs about sex are so much less creepy when they're sung like this," Some Guy said after a rousing rendition of "I Get Ideas" finished playing. I agree.
Drink for actor in-jokes.
You don't have to be an actor to like this film. But it helps.
For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "The Impostors" images are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Special Thanks to my patrons, Caroline Kittredge Faustine, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin and Antonia Beck! Your support helps me keep this blog up and running. Join their ranks today and donate to my ongoing Patreon campaign!