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The Linguini Incident Movie Review

lucy dali arquette bowie

Despite lackluster returns at the boxoffice, The Linguini Incident is notable for several reasons. It is the first Rosanna Arquette movie I can recall in which she wears clothes in every single scene. It is also the first romantic comedy Cor David ("Oh well, there's always Bowie—HE'LL play a Martian") Bowie. The Linguini Incident is also an hilarious spoof of Manhattan trendsetters, best exemplified by Eszter Balint, an appealing fresh talent who plays Vivian, a gun-toting underwear designer. Arquette has never been funnier or more charming as Lucy, who works nights as a waitress and auditions for radical feminist touring troupes during the day. Lucy's goal is to fill the footsteps of escape artist Harry Houdini so she can feed her collecting habit: buying Houdini memorabilia. (The late, great Viveca Lindfors has a couple of nice sequences as a memorabilia dealer named Miracle who just happens to have Mrs. Houdini's wedding ring in stock for a mere five grand.) Bowie is Monte, a new bartender at the restaurant Dali, where Lucy also works. He hits on one waitress after another, hoping to marry one of them, ostensibly to earn his green card. His mysterious involvement with Dante and Cecil, the restaurant Dali's fey owners (played by Andre Gregory and Buck Henry) isn't explained until well into the plot, but he and Lucy manage to connect in a quirky sort of way. The screenplay was written by first-time director Richard Shepard in collaboration with Oakland writer Tamar Brott, who based much of The Linguini Incident script on her early experiences as a New York waitress. It would be easy for a film like this to have a brittle, cynical feel, but largely because of the affection Shepard and Brott feel for each and every character, they have done a good job reinventing all the conventions they satirize and/or romanticize. Many of the restaurant details are just right, from the good-cop/bad-cop style of the Dali's owners to the enormous contrast between the lush dining room and the far from glamorous kitchen the patrons never get to see. Marlee Matlin (in her first theatrical feature since 1987's ill-fated Walker) has a delightful character bit as the cashier at the Dali; and Julian Lennon, Iman, and even the 1940s Warner Bros. starlet Andrea King make brief appearances as dinner patrons. A photograph of the charismatic Houdini appears, too, but anyone who has had the bad luck to see Harry in 1921's The Man from Beyond knows that the even more charismatic David Bowie, with one blue eye, one brown eye, and a mouthful of crooked teeth, can act rings around this dreamy icon from another time.

1992 (R) 99m/C Rosanna Arquette, David Bowie, Eszter Balint, Andre Gregory, Buck Henry, Viveca Lindfors, Marlee Matlin, Lewis Arquette, Andrea King; Cameos: Julian Lennon, Iman; D: Richard Shepard; W: Tamar Brott, Richard Shepard; C: Robert Yeoman; M: Thomas Newman. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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