|Smiling Fish and Goat on Fire
Don't let the quirky title put you off or mislead you. This is a highly
enjoyable romantic comedy-drama about the Remi brothers (played by
real-life siblings Derick and Steve Martini) who, over the course of the action,
come to learn valuable life lessons. The title is derived from the nicknames
their Native American grandmother bestowed on them based on their
temperaments. Chris, a serious-minded accountant born under the
astrological sign of Capricorn, was dubbed "Goat on Fire" while his more
carefree younger brother Tony, a struggling actor born under the sign of
Pisces, was called "Smiling Fish".
In addition to playing the leading roles, the Martini brothers also
co-wrote the script with director Kevin Jordan (an NYU grad and protégé
of Martin Scorsese making his feature debut). As Chris is older, he is the
more reliable of the pair. Daily, he dresses in his suits and heads to his
office and then spends his evenings with his longtime girlfriend Alison
(Amy Hathaway), except their relationship appears to have hit a bad
patch. Alison cries during sex and won't share her problems. In contrast,
the more laid-back Tony spends his days halfheartedly pursuing his
acting career and chasing women despite having a seemingly steady girlfriend.
Chris lands the responsibility of chauffeuring his boss' elderly uncle
Clive (actor and jazz vocalist Bill Henderson) to the office. Clive was a
former sound man in Hollywood and he shares his stories with Chris,
particularly about his romance with a co-worker he met on a film starring
Paul Robeson. In turn, Chris finds a confidante to talk about his own
troubled love life and when Alison rejects him, he meets Anna
(Rosemarie Addeo), an animal trainer from Italy.
As Chris is learning to loosen up a bit, Tony is receiving lessons in
responsibility courtesy of mail carrier Kathy (Christa Miller). Kathy's
young daughter Natalie (Nicole Ray) is a child actress and it isn't long
before she and Tony are paired and in the running for roles in a new
movie. At the same time, Tony is drawn to Kathy in a manner that is
entirely new to him.
While it isn't earth-shattering and it doesn't break any new ground,
SMILING FISH AND GOAT ON FIRE is charming and pleasant. Kevin
Jordan guides the action with a steady, light touch and manages to make
some of the more coincidental moments in the script completely believable.
Bill Henderson is a solid, wonderful presence as Clive and Christa Miller
shows that there is much more to her talents than what she displayed on
the ABC sitcom "The Drew Carey Show." Here she gets to be sexy and
vulnerable and she is utterly captivating. Nicole Ray as her daughter holds
the screen and doesn't come across as treacly or too knowing as some child
In the central roles, Derick and Steve Martini deliver nicely contrasting
performances that clearly play off their real-life status as siblings. Both are
handsome and project the requisite charisma and each creates a believable
and three-dimensional character. They are also generous enough to allow
their supporting cast to shine. Far from being just a vehicle to demonstrate
the brothers' capabilities, SMILING FISH AND GOAT ON FIRE plays as a fine
ensemble piece and an enjoyable romance.
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual content
and brief drug use
Running time: 90 mins.
|© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.