Knife Fight

| June 11, 2013

Paul Turner (Rob Lowe; Parks and Recreation) is a world-class political campaign consultant, putting the right person in the right political office despite what personal shortcomings they may have.  He’s all about the greater good, and along with his new assistant Kerstin (Jamie Chung) is working to reelect a California state senator (David Harbour) and a Kentucky governor (Erik McCormack; Will and Grace), as well as put a free clinic doctor (Carrie-Anne Moss; The Matrix) in the Governor’s Mansion.

I kept waiting for the movie to feel like it was spread too thin.  With the premise, it feels like it should be, but amazingly the three storylines remain somewhat balanced and everything works well to push the Paul character forward.  Some people may be asking how a doctor was able to get into a gubernatorial race so late in the game, while the state senator and other governor had already presumably won primaries and were presumably in the final stretches of their respective campaigns, but it didn’t occur to me until after the movie was done that this doesn’t make sense.  The movie itself is well-crafted and the story is well-told, with realistic and interesting characters who have idiosyncrasies without feeling overwritten.  For example, Kerstin is a lesbian, and this fact has nothing to do with her role in each campaign – it’s simply a choice for the character, and I didn’t feel the need to question its significance just like I don’t feel the need to question the significance of the other characters being straight.

Rob Lowe is excellent here, and as much as I enjoy him on Parks and Recreation, it’s nice to see him return more to his signature style.  The film feels slightly reminiscent of The West Wing with the drama and humor blending together nicely, and it’s a real treat to see Lowe and Richard Schiff back on screen together even though neither actors’ characters feel similar to the ones played on The West Wing.  Paul is much more calculating than the idealistic Sam Seaborn, while Richard Schiff’s character, Dimitrius, is fun and flirtatious, and very different from any character Schiff has ever played before.

Another performance I’d like to single out for a moment is Jennifer Morison’s.  She has a small part here, but the nuance she brings to every second of it is really great.  I’ve become a big fan of her work on shows like House, M.D. and How I Met Your Mother, and understand her latest venture Once Upon a Time is very good as well, but her performance here is maybe my favorite yet.  The character is stupid and wide-eyed, but Morrison plays it in a realistic and hilarious way; especially her undying admiration for the big shot reporter in the film, Peaches O’Dell (Julie Bowen).

Overall, a very good movie with a little something for everybody.  It’s funny and dramatic, with characters to hate and root for, and comes in at a clean 95 minutes.

No special features.  Available now on DVD from IFC Films.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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