City Pulse

By PK Greenfield

The Players: Viviene, Sally, Larry, Grisha and Panda

Do your family gatherings typically end with doors slamming, someone in tears, and tire skid marks staining the driveway? Do the words ‘wacko, nuts and cuckoo’ enter the conversation when discussing certain relatives? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these questions and enjoy a drama that raises neurosis to an art form, then meet the Isaacs in “Just 45 Minutes from Broadway.”

Every clan has its tales, but when your family business is acting in the theater, the distinction between performance and reality often blends. Drama, sibling rivalry, melodrama and (insider) industry jokes percolate in this movie, written and directed by Henry Jaglom.

Actress Tanna Frederick plays Panda Isaacs

Pandora Isaacs (Tanna Frederick), after a break-up with her boyfriend, seeks refuge at her family’s decaying upstate country house. Her father, Grisha (Jack Heller), hails from a family of Yiddish thespians while her flamboyant and kooky mother (Diane Salinger) is the Marian Seldes of summer stock. Uncle Larry, played by David Proval, is a curmudgeon who never got his big showbiz break auditioning against actors like Pacino and De Niro. Now his career has plummeted to performing in a barn and for ‘blue hairs at dinner theater’. Shadowing over the family is their house lodger, Sally (Harriet Schock). Her story adds an additional layer to their dramatics.

James (Judd Nelson) and Panda (Tanna Frederick)

The plot congeals when Pandora’s sister Betsy, played by Julie Davis, arrives with her new fiancé, James (Judd Nelson), a real estate broker and ‘civilian’ — a derogatory term used for someone who is not an actor. Now the family has their biggest performance challenge, to act normal. The romp that ensues is dubious, quixotic and about as rare as the blue bullfrog that symbolically ties this menagerie together.

If you miss your own family’s angst, oddities and peccadilloes, this film will make you feel right at home. “Just 45 Minutes from Broadway” opens October 17th @ Cinema Village.

Watch the movie trailer here.

** Photos courtesy of The Rainbow Film Co.

Originally published October 2012
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