Pretty Bird

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Sundance Film Festival

PARK CITY -- "Pretty Bird" flaps one comic wing and one dramatic wing, but this slight-framed bird never soars and ultimately crashes under the weight of its excessive thematic ballast. Intermittently amusing, this light comedy is a get-rich-quick story gone bust. Unlikely to navigate successfully as a theatrical, "Pretty Bird" should flap straight to video.

Humankind's dream to fly and the huckster's to hit the jackpot collide in "Pretty Bird." A smooth-talking marketer, Curtis (Billy Crudup), manipulates his old college chum, Kenny (David Hornsby), into throwing all his business equity into Curtis' dizzy dream of building a personalized flying machine -- picture those strap-on-the-arm contraptions from old sci-fi movies or early James Bond.

Basically, it sounds like the ventures that little boys plan in their tree houses, but that's part of the charm.

Even Curtis knows you can't make a killing through marketing alone, so he hires Rick (Paul Giamatti), a recently fired rocket scientist, to create their flying contraption. The triumvirate are not magnificent men, to say the least, and their flying machine is not top of the heap. Not surprisingly, Curtis reveals himself as all hot air, and the enterprise plummets.

At is most airy moments, "Pretty Bird" alights with some funny interchanges between superficial market-man Curtis and gruff rocket-man Rick. In particular, Giamatti is hilarious as the sourpuss paranoid scientist. Indeed, credit writer-director Paul Schneider for some amusing moments that, unfortunately, do not overcome the script's grounded trajectory. Most cloyingly, the slight comedy puffs itself into an overinflated gasbag at its climax.

Technical contributions lift the story line, particularly Alex DiGerlando's frothy production design.

PRETTY BIRD
Sound Pictures
Credits:
Writer-director: Paul Schneider
Producers: Dan Carey, Elizabeth Giamatti, John Limotte
Executive producers: Doug Benheim, Paul Giamatti, D.J. Martin, James Shifren
Director of photography: Igor Martinovic
Production designer: Alex DiGerlando
Editor: Annette Davey
Cast:
Curtis Prentiss: Billy Crudup
Rick Honeycut: Paul Giamatti
Kenny: David Hornsby
Tonya Honeycutt: Elizabeth Marvel
Mandy Riddle: Kristen Wiig
Running time -- 97 minutes
No MPAA rating
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