Film

Walter’s Ace Cast Can’t Make Childhood Funny

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Though there are no huge box-office draws in the cast of Walter, many of the supporting actors have such name recognition — and acting chops — that their appearance in this slight, and slightly annoying, dramatic comedy feels something like gathering a team of master chefs to make a breakfast of corn flakes and Tang.

Walter (Andrew J. Guest) is a quirky twentysomething guy living at home with his mother (the poorly utilized Virginia Madsen) while working as a ticket-taker at a multiplex. We know he’s offbeat because Guest employs a Pee-wee Herman walk as shorthand for an eccentric, tightly wound personality. Walter believes he’s the son of God (“No, I’m not Jesus. That was someone else. With a beard.”) assigned the duty of deciding who goes to heaven or hell.

The appearance of a ghost (Justin Kirk) with links to Walter’s past eventually results in his seeing an over-the-top therapist (William H. Macy). Meanwhile, Walter’s co-workers include a smarmy womanizer (Milo Ventimiglia), a droll boss (Jim Gaffigan), and the blonde bombshell of his dreams (Leven Rambin).

Written by Paul Shoulberg and directed by Anna Mastro, the film is about the lingering effects of childhood emotional trauma, and while there is a way to tackle that subject through comedy, Walter‘s self-conscious efforts at quirkiness (Walter’s mom only cooks scrambled eggs — for every meal) and cartoonishly drawn characters (Ventimiglia’s misogynistic bully; Macy’s hectoring therapist) try too hard while falling far short of their marks. Neve Campbell and Peter Facinelli also appear in small but crucial roles.