film reporter


"Finding Amanda," a misguided comedy directed by "Analyze This" writer Peter Tolan, sinks under the weight of misogynistic jokes.

Trying to win laughs by making women appear stupid and crass, it even features a gag about a woman getting raped by a member of her family: "And I thought I was a bad uncle," quips the hero in reply to the news.

Why Tolan, who worked on such smart and sassy TV shows as "Murphy Brown" and "The Larry Sanders Show," would debut with material that makes even Larry the Cable Guy seem sensitive is a mystery.

Matthew Broderick plays a TV writer with a gambling addiction who goes to Vegas to save his teenage niece (Brittany Snow) from prostitution. When he gets there, he finds that she enjoys prostituting herself and taking drugs so much that she doesn't want to change. Instead, she thinks he should go into rehab for his gambling addiction.

The only thing the film's got going for it is the generation gap. The teen prostitute sees nothing wrong with the idea of sex for sale — it's just a way to make a living — while Broderick's middle-aged character is shocked. But even then, he's not too shocked to stop joking about it at length. Even the easygoing Broderick can't inject any lift or charm into the story.

Boxoffice potential is mediocre as the subject of teenage prostitution just isn't good material for a cheeky comedy. Problems are compounded by a few scenes of drama, including one that features a beating. Suddenly the film isn't a comedy anymore, and that's confusing. A speedy transition to DVD looks probable.

British comic Steve Coogan's veritable talents are wasted in a poorly written minor role. (partialdiff)