Drugs, alcohol and not a care in the world sounds like the lives of most people in their twenties. Not a bad way to live but what happens when the fun stops and life starts to creep in? This is the case of Rick Klass’ new film Excuse Me for Living. The main character Dan played by Tom Pelphrey starts the film trying to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge, when his plans go awry he is forced into the rehabilitation center appropriately named “Live Free or Die”.
Dan is forced to realize that life isn’t a giant party and even though he might not like it, he must grow up. Dan fears he has nothing to offer anyone so what is the point in living. His doctor Jacob played by Robert Vaughn (Hustle, Superman III) thinks it is in his best interests to join a seniors men’s group he moderates or as Dan refers to it “his decaffeinated, mummified club.” While trying to get his life straightened out he also falls for his doctor’s daughter Laura played by Melissa Archer (One Life to Live).
The film has a few other stories intertwined involving the impending divorce between Dan’s parents, the relationship between a young woman and elder gentleman, and the dynamics within the men’s club meetings. The film is ambitious in wanting to tackle multiple storylines but at times it felt some could have been dropped to pay more attention to others. Although it may seem jumbled at times one thing is constant and that is Tom Pelphrey; very reminiscent of a young Val Kilmer in Top Secret & Real Genius. His charm, wit and natural flow of the material make him a joy to watch on screen.
Klass takes a very serious situation and although did a good job balancing out the material with comedy, he does not seem able to pave out a clear roadmap. The main story seems to veer off into stories/situations that COULD lead some where but in the end just fall flat. Although I love Wayne Knight (Seinfeld), I didn’t think him playing Dan’s father or his story were necessary. There are also cameos by Jerry Stiller & Christopher Lloyd; in their case it felt natural to the story as Stiller was a member of the seniors men’s group and Lloyd was a patient with Dan **Could not help but think of Taber from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest**. Both of their characters were helpful in Dan obtaining a broader view of life
All around the cast deliver fine performances with the spotlight being on Pelphrey. I’m not much for Rom-Coms but this had a level headed approach to it that didn’t seem too over the top.
2 out of 5