starring Peter Riegert, Isabella Rossellini, Jennifer Albano, Eric Bogosian
screenplay by Peter Riegert & Gerald Shapiro
directed by Peter Riegert
by Walter Chaw Peter Riegert, Animal House's Boon, makes his directorial debut with King of the Corner, a Jewish mid-life crisis of a film that casts Isabella Rossellini in the long-suffering wife role she played so well in Fearless and Riegert himself as a travelling salesman on the verge. Eli Wallach is the father, Rita Moreno is the mother ("He started calling me a 'wetback'"), and Eric Bogosian has a splendid cameo as Rabbi Fink, a man without much patience for mincing words. A eulogy he delivers late-film ("What did he have to offer? Not much") is something like a minor classic--no surprise that the confessional monologue is the man's stock in trade. (With Spalding Gray tragically out of the picture, it's just Bogosian and David Sedaris keeping the home fires glowing.) The film grinds down, though, in its contrivances--a lot happens to this schlemiel Job, and it doesn't take long for the constant keen to get a little Woody Allen-cum-Seinfeld wearisome. A daughter (Ashley Johnson) is underwritten, while an almost unrecognizable Beverly D'Angelo deserves more screen-time as an old high school flame passed along the way. With all the problems in its pocket concerning first-time directors and trying to adapt books of short stories (if your name isn't Robert Altman, don't do it), King of the Corner does have a nice, familiar warmth to it. It's not going to set anything on fire, but it's not a bad way to cleanse the palate between more challenging, piquant fare.