We gave it a C-
Old but apt joke: what did the blind man say when he was handed a piece of matzo? ?Who wrote this nonsense?? If you didn?t know that Sour Grapes, Larry David?s first feature, was by the cocreator of Seinfeld, you?d think: What?s the deal with this dyspeptic, disagreeable comedy? One protagonist?s chief talent is auto-fellatio; the other, a surgeon, accidentally removes the wrong, healthy testicle from a patient, subsequently dispatching the other, resulting in a castrato-pitched voice that leaves the man?a TV-sitcom star?unemployable. This is the comedic future of American cinema?
But, of course, you do know about David and Seinfeld. And as a result, Sour Grapes becomes an interesting dyspeptic, disagreeable comedy, one that elaborates on Seinfeldian themes with an acridness undiluted (and uncontrolled) by sitcom proprieties: It?s misanthropic kin to the death-by-noxious-envelope-glue retiring of George Costanza?s fiancée. Richie (Craig Bierko), the limber one, is part George, part Kramer, a selfish doofus who hits a slot-machine jackpot but refuses to share the windfall with the cousin who staked him the winning quarters; Evan (Steven Weber), the surgeon, fills the Jerry role, saner but equally bullheaded in the peeves that propel the plot?a classic escalation of absurdity?opera buffa style. (The classical-music interludes are reminiscent of those in Seinfeld?s ?Barber? episode.)
Scholars will notice various recurring Davidian obsessions?not nearly as charming in long form?including a shrill, overbearing mother (Viola Harris) whose son?s activities land her in the hospital and a neurotic fascination with the homeless, who here turn a house into a fetid sty. Students will also appreciate that Richie?s girlfriend?with a tedious Noo Yawk princess voice?is played by Robyn Peterman, daughter of the real catalog king mythologized in the Seinfeld canon.