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
  performers have.

          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,
  ensemble piece and an enjoyable romance.

                          Rating:                       B+
                          MPAA Rating:              R for language, some sexual content
                                                              and brief drug use
                          Running time:             90 mins.
© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.