Walk the Talk (2000) / Comedy

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for language and adult humor
Running time: 111 min.

Cast: Salvatore Coco, Nikki Bennett, Sacha Horler, Carter Edwards, Robert Coleby
Director:  Shirley Barrett
Screenplay: Shirley Barrett

Review published March 3, 2003

Shirley Barrett (Love Serenade) writes and directs this offbeat, dark comedy with mostly mixed results.  It's certainly an ambitious endeavor, with colorful characters, amusing situations, and some satirical moments regarding self-motivation seminars and evangelical churches.  There's really only one major weakness to it, which is it's just somehow unsatisfying in its resolution.  Basically, as funny as it tries to be, it can't hold back the serious undertones that creep in, making us actually have more sympathy for the film's victims than empathy with the main characters.

Salvatore Coco plays the lead, Joey Grasso.  His girlfriend is bound to a wheelchair after a car accident, which has given her a decent settlement for her injury.  Joey has an ambitious and imaginative mind, which he uses to go to self-motivation seminars to come up with ideas.  While attending one, a fetching blonde sits next to him, and Joey has his mind and heart set from that instant in winning her over.  It turns out she's a struggling singer, somewhat past her prime in age and talent, but that doesn't stop Joey from offering to be her agent, despite having no experience.  Of course, he needs the money, so in order to get in Nikki's pants, he's going to have to do it through his girlfriend's wallet, which takes quite a bit of work.  It takes even more work to find work for a woman who has a hard enough time trying to win a karaoke competition.

Although I became increasingly disinterested in the story as the film neared the end, there is actually quite a lot to admire along the way.  First, the performances are quite good, with Coco doing a nice job as a neurotic wanna-be agent with crazy notions for fulfilling his dream of bagging a hot blonde.  Club singer Nikki Bennett does quite well in her first film role, and Sacha Horler gives much needed depth to her role as the paraplegic and somewhat embittered girlfriend.  The characters are also well developed, and much of the humor plays off of their respective inadequacies, but does so in a way that's never too contrived to believe.  It's a very subtle style of humor, but if you're tuned into it, you'll probably have a good time.

However, as much as I enjoyed many parts of Walk the Talk, along the way I began to seriously dislike Joey so much as a character, I no longer wanted to watch him anymore.  It's disheartening enough watching a man dupe the girlfriend that loves him so much in such an uncaring fashion, but he comes off in such a slimy, stalker-ish way, that just seeing him trying to go through the motions for getting what he wants no longer seems entertaining after you realize what he's after. 

Then there's the ending, which is very mixed as well.  Without giving too much away, it does have a clever ending, but lots of loose ends remain, and what's worse, at the final moment, another little plot twist is thrown in at random that still has me scratching my head in bewilderment.  There's nothing worse than spending almost two hours following characters around only to leave them wondering what happened to them or why we should have bothered caring to begin with. 

I'm still giving Walk the Talk a modest recommendation, with strong reservations.  I enjoyed the brilliance of the writing and many of the more humorous elements, which delivered enough laughs to justify the rental price.  However, if you haven't seen Martin Scorsese's terrifically ingenious King of Comedy, watch that one instead.  It's the same thematically, but actually walks its talk.

Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo