Get Well Soon

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Get Well Soon

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Individually and collectively, the cast of Friends has become synonymous with a sitcom-derived style of lightweight romantic comedy. Onscreen and off, Vincent Gallo has similarly become identified with an abrasive, in-your-face brand of creepy Method-actor intensity. The two disparate sensibilities collide in Get Well Soon, a strange mixture of Hollywood satire, romantic comedy, and cute-'n'-crazy indie weirdness. Cast against type as perhaps the least-likely popular late-night talk-show host in film history—his late-night competition must include Crispin Glover and Brad Dourif—Gallo stars as a wildly successful but deeply unhappy superstar who chafes at the demands of late-night stardom. In a plot twist seemingly inspired by a notorious televised incident involving Serge Gainsbourg and Whitney Houston, Gallo freaks out during a broadcast and tells a vapid supermodel exactly what he'd like to do to her. The network suits are horrified, and Gallo takes a hiatus from his show to pursue Courteney Cox-Arquette, a woman he loved and lost before his ascent to stardom. For about its first half-hour, Get Well Soon seems content to nakedly mimic the jittery, jump-cut-fueled rhythms and show-business satire of The Larry Sanders Show, even casting that show's Jeffrey Tambor in a key role as Gallo's hard-charging, opportunistic agent. The casting of Conan O'Brien's bandleader Max Weinberg and David Letterman's announcer Alan Kalter in bit parts only adds to the postmodern pointlessness, but the film has nothing to say about the looking-glass world of celebrity that Sanders didn't say earlier and better. In its second half, Get Well Soon shifts focus to concentrate on the relationship between Gallo and Cox, although in the tradition of countless second-rate romantic comedies, the machinations of fate, the demands of the script, and a procession of quirky supporting characters conspire to keep the lovers apart. Chief among the film's plethora of oddballs is Cox's Sex And The City-obsessed brother (Reg Rogers, channeling Nathan Lane), a patient at a psychiatric hospital where therapy takes a backseat to endless bouts of pop-culture riffing and cutesy shtick. Like far too many comedies, Get Well Soon treats mental illness as just another lovable character quirk. Here, celebrities act like they're mentally ill, the mentally ill obsess about celebrities, and nobody behaves like a real human being.

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