The Imposters (1998)

Starring Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt.
Also with (in alphabetical order) Woody Allen, Teagle F. Bougere, Elizabeth Bracco, Steve Buscemi, Billy Connolly, Alan Corduner, Hope Davis, Dana Ivey, Allison Janney, Richard Jenkins, Matt McGrath, Alfred Molina, Isabella Rossellini, Campbell Scott, Tony Shalhoub, Lewis J. Stadlen, and Lili Taylor.
Written and directed by Stanley Tucci.

The ImpostersGrade: B

Review by Carlo Cavagna.

Stanley Tucci, writer and co-director of Big Night, is making a farce, and he's invited all his friends to join the fun. (Trivia question: name all the films in which each co-star of The Imposters previously appeared with Stanley Tucci. Answer at the end.) Tucci and Oliver Platt are Arthur and Maurice, two unemployed actors who practice their craft at cafes and pastry shops to improve their skills and wangle food. After mortally insulting Shakespearean overactor Jeremy Burtom (Alfred Molina), Arthur and Maurice hide in a crate on a dock that winds up on an ocean liner, where, of course, Burtom is also traveling. While trying to evade Burtom and the ship's staff director (Campbell Scott), Arthur and Maurice pose as members of the crew and discover that there are conspirators and criminals aboard. With the help of head stewardess Lily (Lili Taylor), they must save the day.

Back in the 1970's we had Pink Panther sequels and Mel Brooks when he was good, but since then a good farce has been a rare thing. To have two in the same year is a treat. Something About Mary is funnier, but it is also much more vulgar. The Imposters is a farce for the sophisticate. Paying tribute to the comedies of the 1930s, Tucci sets The Imposters in the same time period and imitates their style, right down to a full screen caption giving a title to each absurd sequence of events, as if The Imposters were a silent film. In this respect it's not unlike Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, and it too is filled with cameos by recognizable faces. One memorable image is that of veteran slimeball Steve Buscemi breaking into tears while performing showtunes for the passengers. Campbell Scott, hidden under glasses and a tight German accent, is unforgettable as the ship's goose-stepping uniformed staff director.


Films in which the co-stars of The Imposters previously appeared with Stanley Tucci:

Woody Allen - Deconstructing Harry
Elizabeth Bracco - Somebody to Love, In the Soup
Steve Buscemi - Somebody to Love, In the Soup, Billy Bathgate, Slaves of New York
Hope Davis - The Daytrippers, Kiss of Death
Allison Janney - Big Night
Richard Jenkins - It Could Happen to You, Undercover Blues
Oliver Platt - Beethoven
Isabella Rossellini - Big Night
Campbell Scott - Big Night (also co-director), The Daytrippers, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
Tony Shalhoub - Big Night, A Life Less Ordinary, Quick Change
Lili Taylor - Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle

Review © March 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
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