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'Too Much Sleep'

'Too Much Sleep' causes feelings of drowsiness

Saturday, March 24, 2001

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Despite snoozing at every opportunity -- on the job, on the bus, on the living room couch -- Jack seems to be sleepwalking through his suburban New Jersey existence.

In the movie "Too Much Sleep," part of the Shooting Gallery series at the Loews Waterfront, Jack (Marc Palmieri) is a 24-year-old security guard who lives at home with his widowed mother. He sleeps in his childhood twin bed, lets his mother buy his clothes and generally seems adrift.

"Too Much Sleep"

Rating: Unrated but adult in nature.

Starring: Marc Palmieri, Pasquale Gaeta.

Director: David Maquiling.

Critic's call:


His wake-up call comes one hot day on the bus when he falls asleep standing up, with a brown paper bag of his belongings at his feet. The sack, which is missing when he wakes up, contains his unlicensed gun, once owned by his father. Fearful of calling the police, he instead turns to a friend's uncle, Eddie (Pasquale Gaeta), who regularly holds court in the neighborhood deli.

Eddie, who has the voice and moxie of a Joe Pesci character, was deputy county clerk for 19 years and claims he's well-connected. Eddie, his nephew and Jack -- in various combinations -- embark on an oddball, very sporadically comic odyssey to find the weapon. And to learn a little something about life.

Jack meets an eclectic collection of characters in a variety of settings: A middle-aged woman who was on the bus when the theft occurred; party guests from hell, including a nurse who seems a little too comfortable with undetectable ways to kill a patient; denizens of a club employing male dancers; and a pretty waitress (Nicol Zanzarella) in a Chinese restaurant.

"Too Much Sleep," the debut feature of David Maquiling, was shot in New Jersey and it seems to want to be a slower, slacker, suburban version of Martin Scorsese's "After Hours." Other critics have invoked that 1985 film, but it's too uneven and poorly paced to belong in that vaunted circle.

We don't know enough about Jack to understand why he is so emotionally lethargic. He is a handsome man with a voice like James Spader, pleasant enough, if a little bland. So why does his life seem rather empty?

The most interesting, authentic -- and often overbearing -- character is Eddie, the chatterbox who believes in flattering the ladies, breaking for a good meal, ignoring the audible warning about his car's oil pressure and loving his family.

Filmmaker Maquiling turns to his heritage (his father was a surgeon from the Philippines who married an American nurse) in explaining why he wanted to explore a story of alienation. "I think I was probably still carrying around some anger about society's complete lack of respect for the voices that speak from outside the mainstream." But those voices must be clear and focused.

"Too Much Sleep" might have been a good festival entry, and that's how it played in many other cities. Unlike the previous Shooting Gallery selection, "When Brendan Met Trudy," it's not accomplished enough to stand on its own. Not at the price of tickets and popcorn today.

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