Director Harold Ramis's first film afterGroundhog Day was adapted by Al Franken from his book I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!, and it differs from other recent Saturday Night Live comedy spin-offs in having vestiges of plausible life experience to supplement its central shtick. Franken himself plays a nerdy outcast in Chicago who goes into a psychic funk when he loses his self-help TV show on public-access cable. A visit to his dysfunctional family in Minneapolis reveals an alcoholic father (Harris Yulin), a dope-smoking layabout brother (Vincent D'Onofrio), a hysterical sister (Lesley Boone), and a mother trapped in denial (Shirley Knight); most of the rest of the movie is devoted to Stuart's efforts to negotiate this unstable background. (The title is something of a misnomer, because his success is only partial.) Even if you find Franken hard to bear, as I do, the movie's take on how he functions in the world is both authoritative and compelling, and the movie steadily grows in stature. Like Groundhog Day, it's actually dealing with the contemporary world—a rare virtue in movies nowadays—and some of it's pretty funny too. With Laura San Giacomo.
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