Second Best (2004)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Writer Eric Weber (author of the infamous paperback How to Pick Up Girls) directs his screenplay Second Best. Set in New Jersey, the story concerns a group of fiftysomething men dealing with their feelings of inadequacy. Struggling writer Elliot (Joe Pantoliano) is the most desperate of the bunch, having failed in the publishing business and trying to finish writing a screenplay. The group prepares for a visit from their old childhood friend who is now a big-time Hollywood producer. Elliot hopes this visit will lead to bigger things in his own life. Also starring Boyd Gaines, Jennifer Tilly, and Bronson Pinchot, Second Best was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 as part of the American Spectrum competition.
R (thematic elements)
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Velocity Films


Boyd Gaines
as Richard
Peter Gerety
as Marshall
Bronson Pinchot
as Doc Klingenstein
Matthew Arkin
as Gerald
Barbara Barrie
as Dorothea
James Ryan
as Danny
Stephen Sable
as Lum Chin
Damian Young
as Robert Stern
Jacob Weber
as Checkout Person
Richard Barnes
as Pakastani Man
Tara Gropt
as Karolina
Jessica Weber
as Saleswoman
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Second Best

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (10)

Second Best tries too hard for sincerity, when it's actually more sincere when cynical.

Full Review… | October 27, 2005
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

While the dialogue and characterizations frequently resonate with uncomfortable truths and some genuine humor, the central character's quirks are far more irritating than illuminating.

June 14, 2005
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Might have made a good stage monologue, but as a film it's overstated and barely baked.

Full Review… | June 1, 2005
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Unfortunately there's nothing very sympathetic about Elliot, or even interesting.

May 27, 2005
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic

A sour and pointless exercise.

May 27, 2005
New York Post
Top Critic

Though the essays are smartly written and Pantoliano manages to make Elliot vaguely sympathetic, Second Best is a long slog in the dumps.

May 27, 2005
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Second Best


Much underrated when released, "Second Best" has the advantage of a sure sense of time and place that embeds its characters in a very real world. This is northern New Jersey, Soprano-land, if you will, without the wise guys. It is a culture drawn without cloying affection but without malice--it appears to be what it is, a place which enables ordinary people to live out thier lives in certain unspectacular ways. The undeserved critical failure of this film derives, I suppose from the bad news it brings, news which really should be unsurprising, but which is never welcome: Most men live lives of quiet deperation. I emphasize "men" because that's the gender that gets the most scrutiny, the most sympathy (for what its worth) and the harshest fate overall. There's not much "story" here. Elliott is a bright, well educated man whose upper-level job in New York publishing vanished when his shaky and uncertain commercial judgment came to light. At that point, his marriage failed (leaving his successful wife to pay the alimony), and he was reduced to padding his meager earnings as a mens-wear salesman by scounging from friends and relatives (including his gay son) who remain fond of him. Ambition has quite deserted him, except for the forlorn hope that he will someday sell a screenplay to his old pal Richard, a successful Hollywood schlockmeister. Apart from that his life revolves around the feuillitons he self-publishes and scatters around the county, anatomizing the excruciating humiliations of loserhood. He pals around with old friends and golfing buddies (golfing only at the scrubby public course, of course) who are just as badly off as he: one is slowly dying of cancer, another is a realtor with no knack for selling houses, and the third an MD with a faithless wife who has sunk to the lowest ranks of his profession. His love life-such as it is, consists of the occassional bimbo as bored and desperate as he. The pattern is broken by the arrival of the much-envied Richard for a brief visit, which, even in losers like Elliott, summons a renewed dose of testosterone. A quiet clash of egos (and libidos) ensues, growing tenser by the minute, though not beyond the bounds of comedy. The surprising thing is that Elliott, the professional, self-proclaimed loser, pretty much holds his own, though all the money, power, and celebrity remain with Richard. This episode produces, if not wisdom and resignation, then a sense that loserhood, of one kind or another, is the common fate of all of us, making it possible for Elliott to enjoy the small pleasures that always lay unrecognized beneath his crotchitiness.

Norman Levitt
Norman Levitt

[img][/img] :fresh: [b][color=red]Great movie.[/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000][/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000][img][/img][/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000]:fresh: Not nearly as good as Happiness, but all right. PSH is great in it. [/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000][/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000][img][/img][/color][/b] :fresh: [b][color=#ff0000]Great film. Really fucked up. [/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000][/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000][img][/img] :fresh:Like the concept.[/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000][/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000][img][/img][/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000]:fresh: Decent, but not as good as I was expecting.[/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000][/color][/b] [b][color=#ff0000][/color][/b]


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