Faulty Wirey


Eric Schaeffer’s first movie, the microbudgeted My Life’s in Turnaround (1993), was a sweet ‘n’ low docu-spoof that deserved praise for just getting made. But the former cabdriver’s next two features produced the unmistakable sound of one hand clapping: If Lucy Fell and Fall made for the muckiest runoff of the mid-’90s Gen X romantic-comedy glut (theme song “Show Me Love [From an Ironic Distance]”). Brimming with fatuous “clever” dialogue and gorgeous women swooning over Schaeffer-played boors, the like-sounding titles denoted a vain, smarmy Woody Allen acolyte drowning in his own reflection. He plays, natch, the title character in his most Schaeffer-rific effort yet, the ambiguously autobiographical (and, per usual, sooty-lensed) Wirey Spindell, which finds the eponym’s wheedling-sap fiancée (Callie Thorne) unwilling to walk the plank with her obnoxious, bullying groom until he can fix a problem of the upstairs-downstairs variety: seems Wirey can’t have sex if he’s in love. This crisis of faith spurs reflective flashbacks spanning his lonely childhood, drug-muddled adolescence, collegiate amour fou, and subsequent rehab; Wirey stumbles from self-pitying burnout to a Detective Sipowicz-esque balance of AA spirituality and guy’s-guy vulgarity. Mounting a bildungsroman also affords Schaeffer a new opportunity for wish fulfillment in casting the fetching Eric Mabius as his college-age self, though the younger actor gives his director too much credit: Mabius’s role is written as a jerk but not played like one.

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