The main character in "Beau Jest" is a young woman who is constantly lying to her loving parents, her long-suffering boyfriend and even an actor that she convinces to play a part in her web of deceit.
So, it's a good thing that this duplicitous character also turns out to be a kindergarten teacher. At least that gives her one redeeming trait.
Frankly, this romantic comedy could use a few of them as well. After all, it does waste the talents of a very good supporting cast and has so few laughs in it that it almost defies categorization as a comedy.
Robyn Cohen stars as that aforementioned character, Sarah Goldman, whose strict Jewish parents, Miriam and Abe (Lainie Kazan and Seymour Cassel), haven't approved of any of her boyfriends so far.
Naturally, she's reluctant to bring home her latest, gentile beau, an advertising executive with the unlikely name of Chris Kringle (Greg Cromer).
Instead, she brings Bob Schroeder (Tony Daly), an actor and part-time escort whom she's hired to play her supposed "perfect boyfriend," a purely fictional Jewish doctor named David Steinberg.
This subterfuge is supposed to get Sarah's nagging mother off her back. But the opposite happens, when Miriam demands a command performance or two. As a result, Sarah and Bob start getting closer. But there's another catch he's not really Jewish, either.
The movie was produced locally, by the Utah County-based Prostorm Pictures group, and was shot largely at its Stone Five Studios facility. Unfortunately, it's not a strong effort and probably should have gone directly to video.
A few attempts to "expand" the film with a few scenic Chicago locations just make the obvious, badly lit stage sets look more ridiculous. And several shots in the movie are blurry or out of focus.
Also, judging by his feature filmmaking debut, playwright James Sherman should stick to his stage work. The pacing is leaden and his direction is static and unimaginative.
He's lucky to have these actors, who are busy trying not to embarrass themselves. The problem, there's just nothing funny for them to do. Though it is nice seeing veterans Cassel and Kazan ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding") working."Beau Jest" is rated PG for some suggestive language, scattered mild profanity and ethnic terms used as slurs. Running time: 98 minutes.
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