Monday, February 22, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Fitch

photo: Joan Marcus

Intermittently funny and often annoying, Douglas Carter Beane's latest contemporary comedy of manners explores the lengths to which people will go in order to stay famous. The titular couple (John Lithgow and Jennifer Ehle) are a pair of married gossip columnists who haven't had a major scoop in ages; their heard-but-not-seen boss (voiced cantankerously in a series of voice messages by Philip Bosco) is breathing down their necks to either deliver or disappear. Faced with this scenario, what is there to do? Unfortunately, Carter Beane takes what could have been an interesting dissection of journalistic ethics and uses it as nothing more than an excuse for his two stars to trade varying degrees of bon mots for nearly two hours. Some are very funny; others land with a thud, and anyone without a vast repertoire of pop culture allusions will be bored out of their skulls within the first ten minutes. It doesn't help that neither Lithgow nor Ehle is particularly well-cast: he's far too earnest to convince as a bitchy, disillusioned gossipmonger, while she cannot overcome the simple fact that she's not a comedienne. They try valiantly, but there's not a moment when you don't see them sweat.

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