Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace



The log line here could be "The Big Chill" with songs, though this is misleading in two respects. "Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace" lacks any of the socio-economic or political concerns of "The Big Chill." Indeed its shallowness is reflected in one character's abiding concern with his receding hairline. And there actually is more music in Lawrence Kasdan's 1983 ensemble comedy-drama as its soundtrack is gloriously rife with 1960s rock and soul standards.

The gimmick in "Sing" is that the reunited buddies all sang a cappella together in college, which leads to several musical segments. In any event, the issues here are light and trite, the humor strained and resolutions as pat as a TV sitcom. Consequently, the film's attraction to the over-30 crowd is limited.

Another major difference is that writer-director-producer Bruce Leddy's concentration is entirely on his male characters. Women figure only in their relationships to men. The seven singing buddies who reunite in Long Island 15 years after their last concert do so to sing at the wedding of fellow singer Greg (Mark Feuerstein). Which necessitates twisting the arm of Hollywood player Steven (David Alan Basche), who holds an idiotic grudge against the bridegroom over a stolen girlfriend ages ago.

The movie sets up routine, if not mundane, personal dilemmas among the group: David (David Harbour) -- he of the receding hairline -- stresses over his wife Dana's (Rosemarie DeWitt) desire to have children; Ted (Alexander Chaplin) keeps secret his recent firing from his nagging, foul-mouthed wife Trish (Molly Shannon); and Richard (Reg Rogers), fresh off a divorce, has hit the 500-day mark without sex.

Will (Samrat Chakrabarti), whom everyone assumes to be gay, defies expectations by showing up with a sharp-witted beauty with the arresting name of Julep (Elizabeth Reaser). To jump-start all the male libidos, Steven and his overly proper wife Michelle (Liz Stauber) arrive with their baby's young Swedish nanny (Camilla Thorsson), which triggers all those Swedish jokes that left the lexicon of stand-up comics years ago.

Spooner (Chris Bowers) is cheerfully single as his wealth, Zen-like nature and large sex organ assures him a steady supply of females. His family's beach house lodges the group, and his member is the source of much of Trish's commentary.

Too bad these guys weren't in a rock group, though. Their barbershop-quartet songs are pretty old and corny, as are the movie's jokes. At times the jokes feel like a middle-age guy's idea of adolescent humor -- gags that cause you to wince rather than laugh.

Leddy overplays his hand with virtually every character. Trish's foul mouth, Richard's sad-sack routine and the men drooling over the Swedish babe become tiresome very quickly. And the incidents Leddy dreams up to occupy his characters are mostly dull.

The film unfolds in a succession of master shots, one-shots and two-shots with no visual flow and the camera almost always too close to actors. The only striking visual moments come in wide-angle exteriors of the Long Island house. It sure is a beaut.

Strand Releasing
Blip Inc.
Screenwriter-director-producer: Bruce Leddy
Executive producers: Lisa Marco Messing, Elliott Messing, Erlend Olson, Rick Carlson
Director of photography: Clyde Smith
Production designer: Timothy Whidbee
Music: Jeff Cardoni
Co-producer: Eliza Steel
Costume designer: Erika Munro
Editor: Bill Deronde
Steven: David Alan Basche
Spooner: Chris Bowers
Will: Samrat Chakrabarti
Ted: Alexander Chaplin
Dana: Rosemarie DeWitt
Greg: Mark Feuerstein
David: David Harbour
Julep: Elizabeth Reaser
Richard: Reg Rogers
Trish: Molly Shannon
Michelle: Liz Stauber
Elsa: Camilla Thorsson
Running time -- 96 minutes
No MPAA rating