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Excuse Me for Living: A Review

Let me preface this by saying that I really, really wanted to like this film. In fact I was certain I would after watching the trailer. Aside from the talented cast of former soap stars and veteran actors, the premise of the film seemed fresh, funny, and original, a rarity by today's standards. The problem with Excuse Me for Living is that it feels unfinished. Watching it was a little like looking at a puzzle that's incomplete. All of the pieces are there, but no picture has been formed.

Most of the characters needed more depth. There were glimpses of this throughout the film but nothing ever really materialized. For instance, I needed a better reason for Dan's (Tom Pelphrey) drug use than the fact that his friends got him hooked. In addition I did not find it believable that his friends would purposely keep him addicted to drugs out of sheer jealousy. I think the story would have been better served if Dan had just been an overindulged celebrity, whose drug problem was fueled by the pitfalls of fame and all that implies.

Another problem with EMFL is that there are too many secondary plots. In literary terms, if Dan is our protagonist then the story should really revolve around him and his journey. Obviously there should be a strong supporting cast of relatable characters, but they should never steal focus, which they do quite frequently. This is especially true of Charlie (Ewa Da Cruz) and Barry (James McCaffrey). An entirely separate movie would need to be created in order to properly explore their relationship, particularly since these characters were not essential to this movie.

The relationship between Laura (Melissa Archer) and Dan was also problematic. They had a charming meet-cute, but it was all pretty much downhill from there. From one scene to the next it was impossible to tell if Laura's interest in Dan was sincere, if she was rebelling against her father, or if she was just using Dan for material for her book. For this reason she was one of the most difficult characters to define.

There were, however, some nice moments in the film, primarily between Dan and his therapist Dr. Bernstein (Robert Vaughn). Pelphrey and Vaughn shared an easy onscreen chemistry and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the relationship between their characters was the most meaningful one in the film. I only wish we had been able to see this play out more.

On a positive note, Excuse Me for Living does provide some of daytime's most promising actors a platform with which to showcase their talents. This is likely the only time we will ever see this many soap opera alumni in leading roles, standing toe-to-toe with living legends. If this film does nothing else I hope it will give these talented actors the recognition they deserve.


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