A British movie with an American setting, but shot in Nova Scotia, this perfectly pitched family film is a winning vehicle for the deadpan comic talents of Grammer, star of TV's Cheers and Frasier. He plays Howard, an unshaven, alimony-paying, frequently blocked pulp writer who is forever arguing with his Jewish agent Lou (Rutten). Out of frustration he takes to children's books, and hits paydirt. Sam (Tessier) is the straight-talking kid with razor-sharp literary insight he meets doing research on the floor of the children's library; and Laura (Donohoe), Sam's single mum, an English florist with whom he strikes up a relationship to provide romantic interest. The film's teasing pleasure derives from the easy charm of the playing, the unpatronising, slightly risqué dialogue, the robust, unpretentious mood, and the light comic touch of Jean's direction. Moreover, in a world of paedophile scares, it's good to see a film in which a lone man with a dirty raincoat and untied sneakers plays so unselfconsciously and naturally with children not his own.
The Real Howard Spitz
Cast and crew