Sunday, July 15, 2012

Union Square

Twenty years ago, Nancy Savoca directed a little sleeper of a movie called “Dogfight” with River Phoenix in a typically sweet part as a Marine, soon to ship off to Nam, whose buddies propose a who-can-bring-the-ugliest-date contest, but who finds himself falling for the homely, daydreaming waitress he invites (Lili Taylor).

Her latest offering – and it’s been almost a decade since the last – is the sopping-wet family melodrama “Union Square,” with “Mighty Aphrodite’s” Mira Sorvino in an unrestrained, scenery-chewing performance as Lucy, a hot mess who shows up, poodle in tow, at her sister Jenny’s luxury apartment in Manhattan, having just been dumped by one of her several boyfriends (turns out she also has a husband and a kid, or was it two?). The television actress Tammy Blanchard gets the thankless role of Jenny, a tensed-up killjoy with only neuroses and self-loathing where an actual character should go (after three years, she’s finally going to marry her fiancĂ©, but still hasn’t told him she’s from Brooklyn and not Maine).

“Union Square” has more artificial flavoring than a gallon of Jolt. Not one instant feels like anything other than an actor’s exercise. It has the cheap, low-budget look of so many movies that open at the Music Hall these days, and between the incessant ringing of Lucy’s cell phone, her dog’s barking, and the caterwauling of several bratty rugrats, it’s truly unpleasant to sit through. It may also feature the most bizarre cameo of the year so far, with Patti LuPone phoning in via videoconference, seemingly from Pluto, as the sisters’ gaga mother.

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