I’d pay to see the great Jeffrey Tambor if he were starring in Daffy Duck: The Prequel. But though it’s a big thrill that the world’s finest character actor has his very own lead role, one wishes there were more meat on the elegant bones of Meeting Spencer to justify his cheerfully offhand wit. Tambor plays Harris Chappell, a famous stage director angling for a Broadway comeback after flaming out in Hollywood. The action of this homage to screwball theater comedies unfolds at the famous Broadway hangout Frankie & Johnnie’s, where Chappell, his former lover (Melinda McGraw), and a fresh-faced novice actor (Friday Night Lights’ Jesse Plemons) plot the financing of Chappell’s new play, surrounded by the usual posturers bent on unhelpful intervention. The banter (written by Andrew Kole, Andrew Delaplaine, and Scott Kasdin) is crisp, with fluent direction by Malcolm Mowbray, from whom we have heard disappointingly little since his ineffable 1984 British comedy, A Private Function. The hair is frequently red, the shirts a lovely chartreuse, but otherwise there’s not much for us to look at. And like many a movie about a play about a play, Meeting Spencer doesn’t have much to say for itself other than all the world’s a stage.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 6, 2011