The Austin Chronicle

The Linguini Incident

Rated R, 105 min. Directed by Richard Shepard. Starring Rosanna Arquette, David Bowie, Eszter Balint, Buck Henry, Marlee Matlin.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 10, 1992

The best thing about The Linguini Incident (despite the fact that it has nothing to do with linguini) is its decidedly odd ensemble cast. After all, where else do you think you're going to be able to see all these names in such a small picture this summer? Apart from Bowie, Arquette, Matlin, etc., though, Linguini offers little along the lines of comprehensible moviemaking and, like some huge, chaotic ten-course Italian feast, seems to be heading everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. Director Shepard centers his film around a trendy New York restaurant, the type of place where patrons come to sample the manic ambiance as much as the (doubtlessly overpriced) fare. As newly arrived barkeep Monte, Bowie is a conniving Brit given to tall tales regarding his past and marriage propositions aimed at every waitress in the place. Arquette's harried waitress Lucy, however, just wants to be left alone to pursue her true vocation as a Nineties reincarnation of Harry Houdini, while her assistant Viv (Balint) just wants to market her line of stiletto-encrusted, assailant-proof lingerie. Suffice to say the three of them end up working together in a scheme to net them thousands of dollars in stolen loot, and things merely become more confused from there on in. Matlin comes off with the best role here, as the deaf maƮtre d' forced to put up with an endless series of bad coiffures. Hunt Sales and Sean Lennon pop up in token cameos, but the whole film never really reaches the point of interest, either for the audience or (and this is alarmingly apparent) the cast. There's nothing more grating than watching a bunch of talented actors fail to get the ball rolling amongst themselves, which is exactly what happens here: it almost seems as if the whole production was done as a lark, a way to kill time between the players' real films. It certainly knocked off two hours of my time, I'll tell you that.

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