‘The Remake’: Film Review

Courtesy of Associated Artists Productions
From left: June Lockhart, Patrika Darbo and Sally Kellerman in 'The Remake'
A do-over wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Lynne Alana Delaney writes, directs and stars in a romantic comedy about the making of a romantic comedy.

Demonstrating the very real limits of do-it-yourself, shoestring filmmaking, The Remake is a boomer-centric rom-com whose leading lady handled several key production roles, including producing and directing, working from a screenplay that she wrote, based on her own self-published novel. It would be nice to applaud Lynne Alana Delaney’s creativity, but the result is so ham-handed and unconvincing that it’s far easier to wish she’d enlisted more help in realizing her vanity project.

The Los Angeles-set movie, revolving around the onscreen reunion of one-time co-stars whose offscreen romance ended disastrously, is being four-walled at a single SoCal theater.

Delaney and her real-life husband, Ruben Roberto Gomez, play the central couple, Sheridan O’Connor and Riccardo Rossi. At the outset of their careers (they were still teenagers, we’re reminded endlessly), they appeared together in Passport to Love, which made them stars and became a touchstone for audiences coming of age in the ’70s. When, 30-odd years later, the film’s director, Frank Zelski (Timothy Carhart), aims to resuscitate his career with a Passport update, Sheridan and Riccardo haven’t spoken since Riccardo was a no-show at their wedding.

Inviting them to read for the feature, Zelski wraps it in mystery, withholding from each of them the nature of the project and, more to the point, the co-star’s identity. His strategy is no more preposterous than the idea that an American studio would put big bucks behind a movie starring two people who haven’t been marquee names in decades.

Once that bit of Hollywood absurdity is out of the way — the movie abounds in tone-deaf exposition posing as showbiz insights — the ostensible clash of the movie-star titans barely registers, more a whimpery whine than the great life-changing rift it’s meant to be. Sheridan is still feeling the smart of humiliation over being left at the altar by the “randy Roman.” Riccardo, who turns out to have had a good reason for hightailing it back to Italy, is nothing but delighted to see her. They leave the past unresolved and get to work on the “major studio production” that looks as chintzy as the surrounding movie. If nothing else, The Remake earns its place within the bad-film-within-a-bad-film micro-subgenre.

There’s not a believable, involving moment in the glimpses of filmmaking or in the Sheridan-Riccardo melodrama, with its clumsily telegraphed twist and instantly accessible cache of decades-old letters. Sheridan’s daughter (Tessa Munro) stirs up the still-simmering pot as she gets to know her widowed mother’s long-ago lover. Patrika Darbo offers sitcom-y commentary and advice as Sheridan’s sister; Sally Kellerman does likewise as their aunt, lending her distinctively smoky voice to observations about aging in Hollywood — a worthy topic that receives only the most superficial of glancing nods in this story of second chances.

Chief among the film’s problems is the not-ready-for-primetime performances of Delaney and Gomez, with hers relying heavily on eye-rolling. Both have taken a midlife leap into acting for film and TV, mainly in background work. It’s commendable that they’re pursuing what they love, but they simply don’t yet have the chops to carry a feature.

The film’s only lived-in, natural performance belongs to Robert Romanus, as Riccardo’s agent; in the smaller role of Sheridan’s agent, Stanley B. Herman provides a touch of grit. Nonagenarian June Lockhart appears briefly, and unfortunately, as the story’s villain, a one-dimensional meanie mouthing anti-Italian slurs in the name of old-school WASP xenophobia.

The flatly lighted visuals by DP Timothy Delaney are a suitable match for the clunky dialogue, with repeated use of unhelpful framing and inexplicable camera angles — no ugly ceiling goes unobserved. Such thinly disguised locations as private homes dressed up as restaurants only add to the awkwardness of the proceedings. In her jack-of-all-trades approach, Delaney took on the role of production designer, showing resourcefulness, if not producing persuasive sets. But when even Larry King is unconvincing as himself, sets are the least of a movie’s troubles.

Production company: Associated Artists Productions
Cast: Lynne Alana Delaney, Ruben Roberto Gomez, Tessa Munro, Patrika Darbo, Timothy Carhart, Robert Romanus, June Lockhart, Larry King, Sally Kellerman, Stanley B. Herman, Mark Teschner
Director-screenwriter-production designer: Lynne Alana Delaney
Producers: Robert R. Gomez, Lynne Alana Delaney, Timothy Delaney
Executive producers: Robert Venter, D.B. Cooper
Director of photography: Timothy Delaney
Costume designer: Catherine Collins
Editors: Aaron D. Arnold, Meredith Raithel Perry
Composer: Darius Holbert
Casting: Lynne Alana Delaney, Ruben Roberto Gomez

Rated PG-13, 97 minutes