The Last Shot (May 8/05)
The Last Shot is one of those movies that has a lot going for it - ie an all-star cast, a screenplay by an established writer, etc - yet it never quite becomes anything more than a marginally entertaining way to kill 93 minutes. There's an underwhelming, low-key sort of vibe at play here, which - combined with the insertion of pauses after supposed humorous moments - affords the film the feel of a sitcom.
Matthew Broderick stars as Steven Schats, an aspiring filmmaker who thinks he's finally made it when he receives an offer to direct his own screenplay from a producer named Joe Devine (Alec Baldwin). Unbeknownst to Steven, the movie is actually just a front for a sting operation to catch a mobster connected to John Gotti - though this doesn't stop Joe from moving forward with the pre-production process, going so far as to hire actors and assemble a crew.
The Last Shot marks screenwriter Jeff Nathanson's directorial debut, and while the filmmaker does a nice job of peppering the story with several genuinely funny moments, the movie never quite comes off as anything more than a slightly better-than-average situation comedy. With folks like Baldwin and Broderick (along with Tony Shalhoub, Ray Liotta, and Joan Cusack) in the film's cast, The Last Shot is certainly watchable; the problem emerges when it becomes clear that Nathanson isn't interested in allowing the actors to develop actual characters. Generally speaking, these people seem to exist only to set-up the various gags and comedic set-pieces that Nathanson has populated the film with.
But because there seems to be an equal number of jokes that do work (ie Steven queries Joe as to whether or not his wife works in the business, to which Joe responds, "why would I marry a whore?"), The Last Shot remains somewhat engaging throughout.