My Life's in Turnaround
Directed by Eric Schaeffer, Donal Lardner Ward. Starring Eric Schaeffer, Ward, Lisa Gerstein, Dana Wheeler Nicholson, Debra Clein, Casey Siemaszko, Phoebe Cates, Martha Plimpton. (1994)
REVIEWED By Alison Macor, Mon., Aug. 29, 1994
“Turnaround” is the industry term used to describe the vague and frustrating process of being attached to a script that is dangling between studios in the curious limbo of not being made into a film. Splick Featherstone (Schaeffer) and Jason Little (Ward) are living in turnaround -- having experiences so separated from any coherent scheme that they barely have lives. Splick's exploits as a New York cab driver are outbizarred only by his attempts to get dates with various gorgeous women. Jason bides his time bartending and playing a Svengali-esque den mother to a horde of 14-year-old models. Splick and Jason need some direction in their lives. “You need to focus. Life is short,” warns their friend Sarah (Gerstein). Faced with this commandment, they decide to make a film. Using Sarah's contacts as an agent, Splick and Jason “take” a variety of meetings designed to get them their movie. Of course, without a script, let alone an idea, they don't get very far. My Life's in Turnaround details the misguided yet strangely sincere journey of these two filmmakers as they each struggle to find their movie, a direction, and a girlfriend. Based on the real-life experiences of Schaeffer and Ward, My Life's in Turnaround casts, among others, Phoebe Cates and Martha Plimpton as themselves. Cates really did turn up in Schaeffer's cab and eventually agree to appear in the film. These scenes in which Splick and Jason pitch their film are often absurdly funny, but this craziness risks overkill primarily because of Schaeffer's somewhat manic performance. Ward acts well as the straight man, but sometimes the scenes are just a bit too long. The subplot of Splick and Jason's love lives is more entertaining because of their “juvenile acting-out,” to quote Jason. At a loss for the proper goodnight gesture on his first date with Amanda (Clein), Jason opts for the always reliable slug on the shoulder. The success of scenes like this relies in part on the female characters, who are solid and funny. They act as motivating forces for Splick, Jason, and the film itself. Although the uneven pacing and occasional overacting drag down the film, My Life's in Turnaround offers some amusing situations and shows promise as a first effort from Schaeffer and Ward.