Review: AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR Needs A Commercial Break
Still lean and handsome in his 50s, Bruce Greenwood has proven to be an incredibly versatile actor over a career that stretches back to the late 1970s. In many of his roles, Greenwood has exuded great intelligence, whether he's playing a heroic type or a villain, so casting him in And Now a Word From Our Sponsor as a guileless advertising executive who can only speak in advertising slogans sounds like a canny idea.
The execution of that idea falls short, however. In the screenplay written by Michael Hamilton-Wright and directed by Zack Bernbaum, Greenwood embodies Adan Kundle with the requisite blank-eyed expression and stiff body language, and he recites marketing catchphrases with aplomb.
After kind-hearted charity fundraiser Karen Hillridge (Parker Posey) agrees to put him up for a few days while waiting for a bed at a mental care facility to open up, Adan is the picture of polite pleasantness in his interactions with Karen and her insolent teenage daughter Meghan (Allie MacDonald). Even as Lucas Foster (Callum Blue), the arrogant #2 executive at the advertising company he owns, schemes to steal the company away from him, Adan remains blissfully unaware on the surface, spouting slogans as his only means of verbal communication.
There is a strong suggestion that Adan may be in possession of his senses, though unable to say it, exactly. But contrary hints are also dropped that Adan is in the grip of some extrasensory experience, which merely muddles the message further.
As to the message, it appears to be one that is primarily critical of the advertising business, and secondarily critical of the common person's inability to communicate in anything other than slogans. That's just a guess; truthfully, it's difficult to discern exactly what the filmmakers intended to convey, if they had any thoughts along those lines at all.
If this all sounds vaguely familiar, the easiest comparison point is Hal Ashby's Being There, which starred Peter Sellers as a gardener who is inadvertently swept up into the world of business and politics, and becomes the unwitting advisor to the president of the United States. The gardener's knowledge came exclusively from television, and the film's depiction of clueless politicians searching for easy answers resonated strongly when it was released in 1979.
One pointed political sequence aside, And Now a Word From Our Sponsor, appears to be less interested in social commentary than in interpersonal dynamics, flitting from the strained mother/daughter relationship of Karen and Meghan to the workplace relationship of the imperious Lucas and his long-suffering assistant Jenny (Allison Dawn Doiron), with Adan plugging in the holes with his anti-social yet still charming glue.
Greenwood and Posey are always a pleasure to watch, and each has lovely light comic or dark dramatic moments that made me wish the film itself had something more to say -- or at least had something more varied and challenging for them to do. As it is, the message is clear within the first 10 minutes, and the conceit wears thin thereafter, to the point where I was (almost) hoping for a commercial break.
The film opens in limited theatrical release in the U.S. on May 10. It is currently available to watch via various Video On Demand (VOD) platforms.