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Old 07-04-2007, 10:59 AM   #123
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Gray Matters
Directed by Sue Kramer
Written by Sue Kramer
Starring Thomas Cavanagh, Alan Cumming, Heather Graham, Bridget Moynahan, Molly Shannon, Rachel Shelley and Sissy Spacek

Kissing Jessica Stein is the story of a successful and single female journalist in New York City, who forms a budding friendship with a career woman that soon escalates into an unexpected romantic relationship. A surprising, early-year independent hit in 2001, the movie garnered an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay for its writers and stars Heather Juergensen and Jennifer Westfeldt. But even beyond the critical acclaim, Kissing Jessica Stein was also a refreshing romantic comedy in a genre that has been bogged-down with contrived drab for way too long. Now, the same-sex romantic tales have started to become dull, as well, thanks to the release of this year's Gray Matters.

Heather Graham (Bobby, The Oh in Ohio) stars as Gray, herself a successful and single career woman in New York City. Gray is best friends and roommates with her brother Sam (Thomas Cavanagh), but oftentimes the close siblings are mistaken for something much more. So Gray and Sam venture out to a dog park in the city, in an effort to find a woman for Sam.

At the park, the two connect with a zoologist named Charlie (Bridget Moynahan). After only knowing each other for 24 hours, Sam suprises his sister with the news that he and Charlie have decided to head to Las Vegas and elope, with the hopes that Gray will be their witness. But on Charlie's final night out before her wedding day, she and Gray finalize a night of partying with a passionate kiss, threatening Gray's close relationship with her brother and leading Gray to question her sexual orientation.

Unbelievably light and fluffy, Gray Matters doesn't have a lot to it that seems wrong or misplaced, but it also doesn't have any sort of substance involved in its story, either. First-time screenwriter and first-time director Sue Kramer's film calmly strolls through the romantic-comedy-motions and occassional bits of charm manage to find their way to the audience, but most of the film is staged like a television sitcom, with constant quirky and silly scenarios taking place with little reason.

The movie's biggest flaw is Kramer's screenplay, which rushes through the plot and purposely strays away from adding any dramatic depth to the story. The script neglects to build upon the slightest audience intrigue in any possible tension presented, and the story discordantly transitions from Gray's familiar problems with Sam, to her ongoing workplace difficulties and to her discovery of sexual orientation, with none of the stories feeling complete. Kramer packs it all into a 96-minute film, that is heavily equipped with witless and feverish paced Gilmore Girls-style dialogue.

Graham completely submerges herself into the role of Gray, but too often she goes over-the-top with the comedy routines that are hard to bear. Cavanagh (How to Eat Fried Worms, TV's Love Monkey) and Moynahan (Lord of War, TV's Six Degrees) are slightly more subdued than Graham, but take on too much of a secondary role to the other situations plaguing Gray's life.

A harmless romantic comedy that is a breeze to sit through, you could do much worse than watching Gray Matters, but that doesn't make this film anymore worthwhile.


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