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Floundering

Not rated, 97 min. Directed by Peter McCarthy. Starring James LeGros, Ethan Hawke, John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Lisa Zane.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 3, 1995

John Boyz (LeGros) is a guy with problems. At 28, he's drifting aimlessly through life, his nights reduced to catnaps in an ongoing battle with insomnia, his days reduced to philosophical ruminations regarding the sugar ants that have invaded his kitchen. Occasionally he takes to spying on his neighbors, in particular Jessica, a woman whom he's never met, but frequently sees around his Venice Beach neighborhood. To top off his sense of horrid detachment, the I.R.S. has just seized his bank account, his girlfriend wants out, his drug addict brother (Hawke) skips out on rehab, and his friends only get him high and confused. He is, according to the ghosts of his dead parents, who appear to him one night, “floundering.” McCarthy, the producer of much of the American New Wave of recent years (Repo Man, Tapeheads, Roadside Prophets) may be well out of his 20s, but his directorial debut is one of the better offerings dealing with twentysomething angst so far, neither condescending nor bloated with ill-gotten stabs at generic GenX humor. Packed with notable cameos from the likes of Jeremy Piven, Exene Cervenka, Dave Alvin, Alex Cox, and Jane's Addiction's Dave Navarro, McCarthy keeps the angst light and the humor sublime, marking John Boyz's days with a series of seemingly irrelevant happenings. LeGros is excellent as Boyz: He's all hangdog looks and weary anxieties, like a lost dog not sure whether to bite or turn tail. It's an engaging, occasionally hilarious story that occasionally seems as though someone had finally gotten hold of all that twentysomething malaise without intent to exploit.
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