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Heather's Movie Reviews: Finding Amanda
During the 1980s, Matthew Broderick courted trouble in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. In Finding Amanda, Broderick accepted his troubled fate. Unlike Ferris, Broderick's character never wanted to be saved, not by his wife or his friends. His life was just the way he wanted it: loving wife, high paying job and a gambling addiction. Nothing else mattered until Amanda came along.
The story followed Taylor Mendon (Broderick) from his job as a comedy writer on a television sitcom nobody liked. Taylor was once a writer on a successful show until his multiple addictions derailed that position. Like his current job, Taylor's marriage was also on its final chance. One more mistake and it was all over for him. Unfortunately, Taylor was always too busy to care because he spent large portions of his time at the horse track with torn up betting slips. During a family outing, Taylor learned his drug addicted niece Amanda (Brittany Snow) had been working as a hooker in Las Vegas. After one too many lies, his only option to regain his wife‘s (Maura Tierney) trust was to get Amanda into rehab.
The plan was simple enough. Find Amanda and get her to rehab. Sadly, Taylor's best intentions went out the window as soon as he stepped into his favorite Las Vegas casino. He managed to find Amanda rather quickly who had zero interest in rehab. Instead of pushing her, Taylor befriended his niece and started to battle his multiple addiction demons. Some chaos ensued due to money woes and drug consumption on Taylor's part. Amanda suffered a severe case of denial about her life being perfect. The flawed relatives bonded over their mutually troubled pasts and both realized their lives weren't perfect. Amanda's ending wasn't as neatly resolved as Taylor hoped, but a solution was found that best fit both characters.
Broderick played Taylor as an older, and more dysfunctional, Ferris Bueller. The quips came fast and furious whenever the situation called for one. He made Taylor a reasonably likeable character despite the fact that he wasn't. Broderick's likeability was a double edged sword for this film because it was hard to believe anyone would trust a gambling addict with no desire to stop. He brought a sense of humor to a dark chapter in Taylor's life. Ferris Bueller would be impressed and slightly appalled at the same time.
Even though her character made half the movie, Snow's Amanda made Julia Roberts' character in Pretty Woman look tough as nails in comparison. Her portrayal of Amanda was so overly naïve that someone deserved to slap some sense into her. Snow seemed to be performing for the award crowd instead of for the cameras. Her portrayal of Amanda also suffered due to a poorly developed part that used random plot clichés to explain why she chose to be a hooker. Like Broderick, Snow gave a valiant effort in a performance that was more of a miss than a success. She was more of a supporting role even though her character's name was in the title.
The biggest flaw in the movie was the story itself because it was misleading. The title was Finding Amanda not Two Peas in a Troubled Pod. The story focused on Taylor's self manufactured troubles and didn't show enough of Amanda. Another issue with the movie was a lack of story logic. Would a casino manager willing give thousands of dollars to a man with a large amount of gambling debts? Was Amanda living in ignorance about her new life the whole time? Did she not care? Amanda's ending itself was also rather disappointing because the audience expected so much more than what actually happened. Once it was over, everything that happened prior seemed to have no real purpose anymore.
Ultimately, Broderick and Snow had taken serious risks with characters outside their performance comfort zones. The result wasn't much, but their joint efforts should be applauded nonetheless.
Grade: 2 out of 5 stars