Posted on 9/11/08 10:16 AM
"Greetings" sees a trio of awkward young men acting, well... pretty damn strangely in 1960s New York City actually! These guys are really at odds with their environment and culture. Their eccentricities begin as a source of humor, (even if they might represent the citizen who has "too much freedom"), but eventually, these habits become eccentric, obsessive and finally disturbing. This escalation of behavior might run parallel to Government and society at the time, what with the Vietnamese conflict and the unsettled political climate. Or, it might not! The "episodic" nature of the film, the way it presents scenes like flipping through a scrapbook, is an uneven method in which to present it's satirical comments. In other words: some work and some don't. Sure, I'm sure a lot of the scenes FELT right at the time, (and there is some nice energy to many of them), but unfortunately some of them lack a direction and fall a flat, (but it IS forty years old!).
De Niro has his moments too. A draft-dodging scheme he has is probably the best laugh in the film. His comedic skill is drawn upon fairly well in a number of scenes, (after all, he is the pervert of the group!). His friends are not as gripping though. A JFK conspiracy theory nut, (who is probably the most obsessive of all), lacks depth, and is really just there for a repetitive gag that didn't seem that clever to begin with. Likewise the "computer-date" enthusiast, who goes from nut-case to nut-case. He doesn't come across all that well either, and again, the same gag is dragged along for several evenly-spaced scenes.
One of the things this film does well is show you New York City unflinchingly. 1968 has been captured very well, and it's astounding to see how unpopulated and thoroughly modern it looked, even then. We see these three shabbily-dressed, purposeless, bumblers haunting the bottoms of skyscrapers and climbing across architecture, all while engaging in some stream-of-consciousness-type strange banter. Weird stuff.
The best things are the visuals, followed closely by some comedic flare from De Niro. But overall, it may only be those who have direct connections to this era or this city that may find a whole film out of "Greetings".