Poorly drawn characters ruin this one-note romantic comedy. David Schwimmer makes his big-screen starring debut as Friends-ish nerd Tom Thompson. Tom is an out-of-work architecture graduate who still lives with his mom (Carol Kane). The movie opens as Tom receives a call from his best friend’s mother (Barbara Hershey), who tells him his friend is dead. The trouble is, Tom can’t remember who this supposed friend was. But Tom is exceedingly nice, and agrees to be a pallbearer and give the eulogy at the man’s funeral. Well, the one joke ends there, but The Pallbearer stretches on for another hour and twenty minutes by concentrating on Tom’s pathetic attempts to attract Julie, the girl of his dreams from high school (Gwyneth Paltrow), and on Tom’s pathetic affair with the grieving mother of the friend can’t recall. The weight of this film rests solely on Schwimmer’s shoulders, but he doesn’t have much of a character to back him up, and thus resorts to twitching mannerisms and whining neuroses. Unfortunately, a little of it goes a long way, enough to carry through the funeral, but not the rest of the film. The rest of the characters are just as shallowly created. His two best friends (Michael Vartan and Michael Rapaport) are stuck in poorly defined relationships. His mother is a stereotypically nosy and annoyingly shrill. Paltrow just seems confused. And the audience, bored.
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