Fortunes (2005) / Comedy

MPAA Rated: R for sexual content, nudity, language, and a brief scene of drug use
Running Time: 91 min.

Cast: James Urbaniak, Mike McGlone, Tony Hale, Diana Henry, Laura Poe, Kristopher Fiedel, Brett Taylor, Ellen Barber, Michael Etheridge, Peter Dinklage, Maya Israel, Shannon Parr
Director: Parker Cross

Screenplay: Matt Salzberg
Review published December 25, 2005

Fortunes is a low-budget independent feature comedy that sports a good cast, competent direction, and workable dialogue, but fails to be anything more than average.  The fundamental problem with the film as a whole is that it just wasn't really a good idea for a feature-length film to begin with.  It clocks in at a modest 90 minutes, but the material here is spread very thin, and what little there is to hold everything together lacks freshness or a necessary hook to keep us interested in the events that transpire.  Likeable characters will only take you so far, and Fortunes builds up some good character development but sticks them in a plot that never lives up to the level of interest of its primary premise.

The story follows three 30-something friends, happily married Phil (Hale, "Arrested Development"), cocky investment banker Mike (McGlone, The Bone Collector),  and artistically leaning Lewis (Urbaniak, Sweet and Lowdown).  On their way home from a night out they decide to see a fortune teller on a whim, only to come out of the experience unsure how to proceed.  Phil learns that something bad might happen to his young son if he doesn't prepare, which causes him to be overly protective of the boy, to the detriment of his home life.  Meanwhile, Lewis finds that the rut of a life he has made for himself isn't working out for him, and he attempts to shake things up after quitting his stressful job at a television studio,  Mike is caught in the middle of his two friends' life crises, and is impacted on his own, partially because of a promotion that he was expecting and didn't receive. 

Although billed as a comedy, and it is, Fortunes is a bit on the dry and quirky side, never really evoking much in the way of laugh-out-loud moments.  Although it isn't hilarious, it is still pleasant enough in its droll way to have the potential to be a worthwhile indie excursion, if only there were something unique and pithy to keep our interest.  Alas, the sitcom gags fall flat, while the whimsical moments that are tossed in do little to capture the bit of magic that the entire story so desperately needs to drive home its theme.  The plot itself never gels, leaving many scenes feeling like tangential events with no central purpose.  Bottom line:  it's boring.

Although the film is about a trip to the fortune teller, Fortunes feels much more like an appointment with a hypnotist, as the lack of substance will make most viewers "sleeeepy, verrry sleeeepy".

Qwipster's rating:

2005 Vince Leo