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(4-7-2005)

By Don R. Lewis

TENNIS ANYONE?

In the phony, rude, relentless, heartless, vapid sinkhole that is Hollywood, one longs to escape and find a way to get in touch with themselves. To feel clean again, or whole again. For B-level celebrities Danny Macklin and Gary Morgan (Logue and Fox) that escape is found in tennis.
As his career starts to take off with a prime spot on a sitcom, Danny Macklin's life starts to spiral out of control. His wife (Bax) is one of the nastiest women around and it seems like whatever he does in life or career it's not enough. Enter tennis zen master slash actor Gary Morgan who finds a common bond with Macklin via their love of tennis and El Camino trucks. Or are they cars?
"Tennis, Anyone" is the writing and directing debut for Donal Logue and he does a great job in both seats. The film is really dark and strange, yet funny as well. At times it feels like a documentary on Logue's life as he scores a sitcom that's eerily similar to his "Grounded For Life." O.K., fine...it is that show but it has a different name. Co-star Kirk Fox has had an illustrious real-life career in such roles as "Partolman," "Gangly Recruit," "Sharpshooter" and "Enforcer." The film makes you wonder what's real and what's not. Both actors seem to be drawing from true life experiences.
This reality bend really gets interesting in the case of the film’s villain, Johnnie Greene (Isaacs). Greene is a tennis lover as well as being one of the most evil, shallow and contemptuous pricks portrayed in quite a while. One has to wonder who Isaacs is channelling...especially when talk of the characters TV show getting "the biggest syndication deal ever" is mentioned.
As mentioned, "Tennis, Anyone" gets pretty dark and downright creepy as well. However, it's saved from being too weird by the always charming Logue as well as hysterical performances by Stephen Dorff as a fakey country singer and Paul Rudd and Henry Thomas as over the top porn stars. There's also some good life lessons to be gleaned here, but I'm not sure they totally apply to anyone other than movie stars...and porn stars.





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