Scott Caan's Vanity Project, Mercy

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Mercy
Directed by Patrick Hoelck
IFC Films
Opens April 30, IFC Center

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Johnny (Scott Caan) is a Hollywood party boy/successful novelist who tosses out bon mots like, "You hitting that?" Then his bestseller gets panned by Mercy (Wendy Glenn), a New Yorker critic with the bone structure of a supermodel, who accuses Johnny of "lacking depth." In a town full of overeager and opportunistic easy lays, Mercy gets Johnny's attention with her dis. "Usually, with women, I can only hear the teacher from Peanuts," Johnny tells his bros. "But with her, I heard her." Scripted by Caan and directed by fashion photographer Patrick Hoelck, Mercy looks like an Urban Outfitters catalog and plays like A Very Special Episode of Entourage, only sporadically convincing that it's taking such form to mobilize a critique of the same. It's literally a vanity project; Caan has written himself a character that utilizes his own unusual physicality. His boyishly handsome face suits the vulnerability of a romantic hero, but he's also got the body of a linebacker squeezed down to the height of a jockey, and his short-guy-with-something-to-prove swagger befits Johnny's blend of cockiness and insecurity. The performance is a bit too perfect, leaving no room for spontaneity or happy accident. Speaking of accidents, Caan's written a hell of one—as Chekhov promised, an asthma inhaler brought out (and cloyingly commented on) in the first act points to tragedy in the third. At the risk that giving Scott Caan a bad review will cause him to fall in love with me, I must note the irony in a film that seeks to critique superficiality, only to fall back on the old "dead fiancées deepen dipshits" trick.

 
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