There is a part of me that is constantly amazed whenever I turn on
a television or slip a DVD into the player and see something
actually materialize on the screen. All we ever see is the end
result of a process that is so convoluted, illogical, and laborious
that it's a wonder that the only thing that ever shows up on a
movie or a television screen is a test pattern (of course, I have
the same reaction whenever I crack the binding on a new book and
actually see something in print, but that's another story).
There are a lot of projects, however, that start off as a good idea
and never happen. Ever see a film called LaBrava, starring
Dustin Hoffman? Of course not. Didn't happen. It almost happened,
but as my firearms trainer once told me, "almost" only counts in
horseshoes and hand grenades. Another project that "almost"
happened is a legendary film by Jerry Lewis --- yes, that
Jerry Lewis --- titled The Day the Clown Cried.
Clown, a rare dramatic vehicle for Lewis that was filmed in
1972, may never see the light of day, for a variety of reasons.
Naturally, everyone who knows about it wants to see it. And that,
of course, would include Roy Milano, Laurence Klavan's
film-obsessed creation, who makes a welcome return in THE SHOOTING
The general object of Milano's obsession is film trivia, to the
extent that he is able to think of little else. Indeed, odd pieces
of trivia pop into and out of Milano's consciousness, unbidden, at
the most inappropriate times --- including, but not limited to,
moments of near-death. Milano encounters several of these moments
in THE SHOOTING SCRIPT, almost from the minute he receives a
cryptic call from a stranger concerning a long-sought copy of the
Jerry Lewis movie. The call leads Milano to a somewhat manic and
madcap pursuit of the film, from New York to Los Angeles, to
Amsterdam and back again, shadowed all the while by a mystery man
who will stop at nothing to get the film for himself. Milano
reprises his role in 2004's THE CUTTING ROOM as an almost-lovable
nudge who would get a life except for the fact that he is enjoying
his neurosis too much to do so.
Klavan, while not a deep literary writer, is an extremely
entertaining one, and his plot holds together, hilariously, as a
vehicle for the presentation of arcane film facts. In THE SHOOTING
SCRIPT Milano's fixation is with what actor/director replaced what
actor/director in which film. The trivia is extremely interesting
if you have even a passing interest in film history, and if you are
as obsessed with it as Milano, you will find the narrative to be
riveting as the facts come flying at you.
THE SHOOTING SCRIPT establishes that Klavan has a winning franchise
with Milano and this series. Given that Klavan has several decades'
worth of film history to work with, we hopefully can look forward
to much more of Klavan, and Milano, in the years to come.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011