Excuse Me for Living: Film Review

You'll want to check into rehab yourself after watching this witless sitcom-style portrait of a callow substance abuser.

A yuppie substance abuser finds love during his stint at a rehab clinic.

Opens Oct. 12 (Dada Films, Required Viewing)

Director/screenwriter Ric Klass can be excused for living, but forgiving him for Excuse Me for Living is a rather harder proposition. This witlessly antic sex farce about a yuppie substance abuser coping with myriad personal issues during a stint in a rehab facility pretty much fails on every level, other than providing big-screen exposure for a passel of veteran older actors.

After Dan (Tom Pelphrey) fails in his attempt to throw himself off the George Washington Bridge, he winds up in an upscale clinic led by the no-nonsense Dr. Bernstein (Robert Vaughn, no doubt wishing he was still employed at U.N.C.L.E.). The doctor’s unorthodox brand of treatment involves forcing Dan to take part in group therapy sessions among older men at a local synagogue, which if nothing else provides Jerry Stiller the opportunity to deliver snappy one-liners with his trademark sardonic delivery.

The overabundance of poorly coordinated subplots includes Dan’s budding relationship with the sexually aggressive Laura (Melissa Archer), who turns out to be, you guessed, the doctor’s daughter. Meanwhile, Laura’s best friend Charlotte (Ewa Da Cruz) is having a relationship with an older college professor (James McCaffrey) who’s in Dan’s therapy group, and also happens to be the divorce lawyer handling Dan’s mother’s case against his philandering father (Wayne Knight). Feel free to stop reading and take notes.

The contrived proceedings might be more palatable if we cared the slightest bit about any of the characters, but other than Vaughn’s aggrieved doctor each one is more obnoxious than the next. This is particularly true of the callow, self-absorbed Dan, whose snarky demeanor is far more off-putting than charming. Pelphrey, frequently doffing his clothes, ably fulfills the role’s physical demands but is unable to provide the necessary charm.

Among the other performers popping up in the proceedings are Dick Cavett as a wisecracking priest and Christopher Lloyd, not exactly playing against type as the clinic’s looniest patient.

Production: EMFL Productions.

Cast: Tom Pelphrey, Christopher Lloyd, Wayne Knight, Jerry Stiller, Robert Vaughn, Melissa Archer, Ewa Da Cruz, James McCaffrey.

Director/screenwriter/producer: Ric Klass.

Director of photography: Chase Bowman.

Editor: Scott Conrad.

Production designer: Kristen Adams.

Costume designer: David Tabbert.

Composer: Robert Miller.

Not rated, 105 min.