John Guare's adaptation of his stage hit has Smith's young pretender talking his way into the Central Park household of 'liberal' art dealer Sutherland. In preppy clothes and purportedly a friend of his host's student son, Smith assuages the suspicions of Sutherland and wife Channing, and also of their prospective client, millionaire South African McKellen, to such an extent that he's soon cooking them a gourmet meal and letting on that he's the son of actor Sidney Poitier. Too safe to work as satire, Schepisi's film comes over more as bourgeois farce, beginning at a frenetic pitch as Ian Baker's camera darts madly around the apartment when a painting is discovered to be missing, and flashing back repeatedly to the ruse. Smith's fine as the impostor, but scenes of his Travis Bickle-style preparations stretch credulity (this guy's clearly too gifted an actor not to find work), and although he manages to retain the requisite mystery as to his identity, it's hard to accept him as a mirror to hypocrisy or as a catalyst to responsibility. In the end only Channing, reprising her award-winning stage role, manages to inject some authentic feeling into this somewhat mechanical enterprise.
Cast and crew
Will Smith Donald Sutherland Stockard Channing Ian McKellen Mary Beth Hurt Bruce Davison Richard Masur Kitty Carlise Hart Osgood Perkins