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The Perfect Host

  • Film
  • 2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Of all the dinner parties in L.A., he had to walk into this one. John (Crawford) has just robbed a bank and needs to get off the streets. Happenstance leads him to the door of Warwick (Pierce), a soft-spoken Angeleno who sashays around his modern, minimalist home with a deceptively hospitable air. John lies his way inside by pretending to be the friend of a woman whose postcard he found in the host's mailbox, but his fabrications start to fall apart almost immediately. And Warwick, as he keeps reminding his uninvited caller, has a large group of guests arriving soon.

There's a good deal of Hitchcockian tension in these early scenes, and it should come as no surprise that neither John nor Warwick are who they say they are. But it's still fun to watch both actors maintain a distinctive air of West Coast politesse while keeping their true motivations hidden. (Pierce plays beautifully against his milquetoast Niles Crane image---in Warwick's flamboyant hands, even a napkin seems threatening.) Then the masks fall away, and writer-director Nick Tomnay needlessly convolutes what should have been a taut, focused two-hander with flashbacks, alternate realities and too-clever-by-half reversals. Even Australian supersinger Helen Reddy---sans Airport 1975 nun's habit---pops up as a clueless nosy neighbor. Somebody should have told Tomnay that there's way too much stuffing in this turkey.

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Written by Keith Uhlich
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