Lisa Schwarzbaum
February 23, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Bigger Than the Sky

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
106 minutes
Limited Release Date
02/18/05
performer
John Corbett, Amy Smart, Marcus Thomas
director
Al Corley
distributor
MGM
author
Rodney Patrick Vaccaro

We gave it a F

A huge pile of horsefeathers is being peddled as fairy dust in Bigger Than the Sky. The giant thing that crowds out the heavens in the title of this uniquely bogus, fancily well-marketed indie isn’t a star a billion times larger than our sun: It’s an urge, absolutely primal, with which the folk of the Portland Community Theater (Which Portland? Pick one) devote themselves to being theater folk, with all the hysteria, heartache, bed-hopping, vanity, pathos, mysterious illness, alcohol, backstage antics, and bad dialogue that attend such a sacred calling. (Even Waiting for Guffman‘s peerless Corky St. Clair would have found this company too twee for the room.)

By the laws of Rodney Vaccaro’s impossibly dewdropped script, wishing and innocence make dreams come true. That’s how Peter (relative newcomer Marcus Thomas) changes his dull, sad, lonely life by trying out, on the spur of the moment, for a part in a local production of Cyrano de Bergerac. It’s Peter’s lucky night: The show’s madcap director (British stage dignitary Clare Higgins) is daft enough to give the eloquent, proboscis-challenged title role to the novice who delivered the worst audition. And so it’s…showtime!

Under the why-not-me direction of first-timer Al Corley (best known for playing Steven Carrington on Dynasty), the rest of the curiously overqualified cast appear to be doing their own version of community theater. John Corbett, Amy Smart, Sean Astin, Patty Duke, and Greg Germann enter and exit doing hammy versions of ham roles, and Topsy-Turvy’s Allan Corduner goes over the top and through the stratosphere as that great, great (ailing) local theater legend, Kippy. This still leaves the mystery of casting the deeply colorless Thomas in the central role, though. Are the filmmakers making meta use of a bland, uncharismatic actor to play a bland, uncharismatic actor who plays one of the theater’s most memorable men? Nah, thinking like that requires panache.

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