How Sweet It Is Requires Your Unhinged Commitment


Last week, scientists released the results of a study that suggests inhibiting a compound called “nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer” that’s produced by the hypothalamus dramatically slows the aging process in laboratory mice. That’s great news! On the other hand, thanks to the hearty expression of that protein complex inside the hypothalamus of a certain early-1980s Saturday Night Live alum, the shouting, emphatic “Sports Guy” character from “Weekend Update” has given way to the craggy and surprisingly soulful Joe Piscopo who stars in How Sweet It Is, an extraordinarily undistinguished comedy from director Brian Herzlinger. Piscopo plays a washed-up, alcoholic musical-theater director with the showbizzy name Jack Cosmo who owes several hundred thousand dollars to a mob boss named “Placeholder Name”—oh, sorry, we mean “Big Mike”—played by Paul Sorvino. A Broadway enthusiast, Big Mike wants to produce a musical about (sigh) a recovering chocoholic, to be titled How Sweet It Is. He forces Jack to write and stage the show with a cast of his friends and debtors. An FBI agent with a talent for song and dance lands the lead as part of a bureau sting operation. Like the climactic musical itself, the film pivots on silly people and absurd situations that demand total, unhinged commitment. If you slap this kind of broad farce on the table, you have to ante all your comedic chips . . . then add your car keys, wallet, the deed to your house, and your daughter’s college fund. The director and his co-writer, Jay Black, don’t seem to have much skin in the game.