Review: State And Main (2000)


The movie industry probably hates this film!

Written By: David Mamet
Directed By: David Mamet

I have heard a lot about David Mamet over the years, yet I was sure that I had never seen any of his movies. When I decided to revisit a comedy I had fond recollections of in State And Main I discovered I was wrong. My only exposure to State And Main was a few years back on HBO late at night and I half paid attention to it, but as I said I had fond recollections of what I did see. When I saw State And Main scheduled to play on some Encore channel, probably Encore Spastic Loving 22, I fired up the DVR, well pressed a button actually, and decided to give State And Main another go.

State And Main falls into the category of comedies that I love, it is dry and sardonic, moves fast and skewers an industry that is wide open for skewering. Like all comedies, State And Main rests on whether or not you find it funny. I have talked in the past about how comedy is more subjective than any other art form, and State And Main’s dry, sardonic humor appears to be the most polarizing brand of humor out there. While it tackles an obvious subject in the movie industry, and then later politics and small town America, it does so in very funny fashion and with plenty of wit. I understand why some people may not have found it funny, but I found it hilarious.

The little tidbits in a comedy are what give it texture and State And Main is full of tiny nuggets of comedy. The two men in the local coffee shop go from reading the local paper to Variety. The crew walk around wearing self-made TV shirts about the movie, how the crew stops working on the spot when Sarah Jessica Parker is crying, and my favorite running, oh pun, gag of the cars constantly running over the pot hole on Main Street.

The score in State And Main adds a lot of flavor to the film, it feels very New England, not that I’ve ever given what New England sounds like much thought, but it sounded very New England to me. But, the best part of the movie was the ensemble cast, William H. Macy more than anyone else. He is consistently funny and delivers his lines in hilarious rapid fire fashion. This also ties into the trend of not a single character being able to finish a sentence, a really great touch.

The ending was a bit coincidental, the fake courthouse leading into Joe White mentioning the courthouse at the moment he is about to get on the train to leave. I like that Ann gives him a second chance with her courtroom shenanigans and that ties into the theme of the movie within a movie and that of State And Main itself. So, while a bit too coincidental it ended up working for me on the whole.

I have finally found a movie where I find Sarah Jessica Parker to be a good addition to the film, that has to count for a lot, right? It does for me, because she is usually movie suicide for me. But, she is actually good in State And Main and adds to the allure of the film. State And Main is a witty comedy that never ceases to make me laugh, and outside of a few clunkers here and there comes across as a very smart comedy.




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