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“Under the Eiffel Tower” Wastes Rich Comedic Potential

For years now, Veep has been one of the absolute funniest shows on television. That’s due, in no small part, to the efforts of a cast that includes Reid Scott and Matt Walsh. They’re both hilarious actors, blessed with the capability to embarrass themselves in the most humorous of ways. So, pairing them up for a buddy comedy of sorts would be solid gold, right? Well, not so fast. Opening this week, Under the Eiffel Tower has moments that shine between the two, but as it gets more serious, it shows how poorly cast one of the two are. It all ends up being a little too messy and a little too low key to fully work.

We meet Stuart (Walsh) while he is in the midst of a mid life crisis. Recently unemployed, the bourbon salesman is getting drunk on his own product when best friend Frank (David Wain) invites him on a family vacation to Paris. He’s desperate enough to go, so he tags along, hoping it will be a turning point. Then, Stuart decides it’s a good idea to propose to his buddy’s 24 year old daughter Rosalind (Dylan Gelula), while they’re standing under the Eiffel Tower. To put it mildly, that doesn’t go over well. Embarrassed, he starts to head home, only to run into the jovial Liam (Scott). Telling him his sob story, they opt to continue his vacation. Then, they run into the beautiful Louise (Judith Godrèche), who strikes both their fancies. Insert a little competition between the new friends. Archie Borders directs and co-writes with David Henry and the aforementioned Godrèche. Joseph Stephens contributes the music, while the cinematography is by Léo Hinstin. Supporting players include Gary Cole, Michaela Watkins, and more.

Matt Walsh does his best to keep the film afloat. He actually fares even better in the more dramatic moments than the comedic ones. His situation is sad, even if we barely get time to get in his head. The movie rushes through his conflicts with too much haste, so just knowing the type of actor Walsh is does a lot of the heavy lifting. As for Reid Scott, he’s silly enough here, but his broad accent goes in and out, is distracting, and frankly, is an unnecessary decision. He ends up fading into the background by the third act, and you understand why.

It’s honestly a shame that you can’t help thinking of Veep while watching Under the Eiffel Tower. Scott and Walsh are laugh riots on that show, while here they’re trying something a little bit different. They deserve kudos for the attempt, though the latter ends up faring much better than the former. Scott is lost in that bad accent, while Walsh just becomes a generic indie rom com protagonist. Nothing really sets this flick apart. The casting and personalities of the leads could have, but that ends up not really being the case. There are charms and laughs to be had, especially food related, but just not enough.

This week, audiences can see the Veep co-stars Scott and Walsh team up for a French adventure in Under the Eiffel Tower. For some, that sentence might be enough. It’s often a charming film, just not a particularly engaging one. You spend much of the movie watching things happen, but you’re never especially invested. It’s very much a mixed bag in that way. A little shift either more towards comedy or a full on embrace of drama/romance would have been the better way to go. As it stands, this is a decent flick, but one that falls just shy of being worthy of a recommendation…

Under the Eiffel Tower hits theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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