Shot in the Dark

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10:30 p.m., Sunday, June 3
HBO


It pretty much goes without saying that, had Adrian Grenier not landed as a regular on -- and budding star of -- the HBO comedy "Entourage," this little 90-minute pet project he directed back in 2002-03 before taking on his current high-profile gig would be showing in his living room rather than on pay-cable.

And while "Shot in the Dark" is nothing if not heartfelt and earnest, it's on the laborious side, self-indulgent to a fault and navel-gazing in that "Look at what a sensitive artist I am" way. The strength of this documentary is in its refusal to dress its narrative in overly melodramatic trappings. Billed as a personal journey of self discovery, it charts Grenier's yearning to reconnect with a father who split from his mother, Karesse, while he was still a young kid. He hadn't seen his biological father in 18 years, and when he does catch up with his dad during a trip, there are no tears or crashing cymbals. It is, in fact, awkward -- but not disastrous; gratifying -- but hardly life-altering. And Grenier allows the moment to play out on its own merits unadorned by false sentiment.

The film is less successful when it struggles to branch out and somehow measure "the meaning of fatherhood," which is a bit like trying to assess the reasons we're alive in the first place -- which is to say, rather elusive. Grenier takes to the road with a camcorder to speak with fathers and sons outside Yankee Stadium, his father's relatives and the other men in his mother's life to gain insight and come to some consensus about paternity. It's ultimately long and repetitive, scattered with moving moments as gleaned by a scraggly looking kid in his early 20s still struggling to find his place in the world. Maybe "Shot in the Dark" (the title refers, coarsely, to ejaculation) helped the actor come to terms with his past, but the film is perhaps a tad too personal to spawn our unqualified empathy.
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