Park

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A fitfully funny ensemble comedy set during lunch hour in a not-so-secluded Los Angeles park, Kurt Voelker's "Park" ultimately gets stuck in neutral.

While it has its bright spots and a cast including William Baldwin, Ricki Lake and "Saturday Night Live" alumna Cheri Oteri, the broadly played picture ends up feeling like a lost -- if racier -- episode of "Love, American Style."

Having covered the film festival circuit for the past couple of years, where it has played well with adult audiences, the independently distributed "Park" strolls into select theaters this weekend, but given the crowded marketplace, its horizons aren't looking particularly green.

Voelker, who makes his feature directorial debut here after logging screenwriting credits including 2001's "Sweet November" remake, ensures there's no shortage of situations in his comedy.

Among those converging on the sunny park ground nestled high in the Hollywood Hills are the suicidal April (Dagney Kerry), who is finding it increasingly challenging to off herself, as well as the nerdy Ian (David Fenner), a mobile pet groomer who has a crush on his comely Polish co-worker, Krysta (Izabella Miko), who has subsequently been engaged in a hot and heavy affair with Dennis (William Baldwin), an obnoxious attorney with a fetish for his SUV.

Spying on Krysta and Dennis getting it on in said vehicle are his wife, Peggy (Ricki Lake), and her best friend, Claire (Cheri Oteri). They're about to seek revenge for his infidelities but also are beginning to wonder if they might have a latent connection to the L-word.

Meanwhile, over in another vehicle, co-workers Meredith (Anne Dudek) and Sheryl (Melanie Lynskey) are about to find out exactly what their colleagues Nathan (Trent Ford) and Babar (Maulik Pancholy) enjoy doing with each other during their lunch hours at the park.

It's all harmlessly naughty at the outset, but when it comes to juggling all those characters and their intersecting scenarios, Voelker lacks the dexterity of, say, Robert Altman.

While things soon turn a tad repetitive, a few of the performances generate a pleasant comic spark, especially those by the hapless Kerry and the defensive Dudek.

On the opposite side of Christophe Lanzenberg's busy camera, composers John Pratt and Michael Alemania furnish the quirky/perky themes that blend neatly with an inspired song selection featuring Pink Martini, Steve Tyrell, Nina Simone and the Indigo Girls.

PARK
Mello Picture
Credits:
Director-screenwriter: Kurt Voelker
Producer: Dana M. Jackson
Director of photography: Christophe Lanzenberg
Music: John Pratt, Michael Alemania
Editors: Anita Brandt Burgoyne, Paul Warschilka
Cast:
Dennis: William Baldwin
Peggy: Ricki Lake
Claire: Cheri Oteri
Sheryl: Melanie Lynskey
Krysta: Izabella Miko
Meredith: Anne Dudek
Nathan: Trent Ford
Babar: Maulik Pancholy
Ian: David Fenner, April: Dagney Kerry
Darnell: Treach
Javier: Francesco Quinn
Running time -- 86 minutes
No MPAA rating
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