Everything this film had to say was said in the first minute. After that, it was torture.
Apparently, it wasn't bad enough that writer/director Eric Mendelsohn grew up in the suburbs, an environment so dull and static that its residents are turned into zombies; he also had to aspire to be a filmmaker, in order to inflict the experience on others.
While I'm seething about this movie, I'd also like to say that Stephen Holden, one of the NY Times's many film critics, is a moron. One of his raves is plastered atop the poster for this film. For him to recommend this film to viewers is akin to recommending that they smell his underwear. It's self-serving and pathetic. Just read his review, and replace the words "Judy Berlin" with "smell my big gray BVDs", and you'll start to feel the way I did about his take on this film. Just because it's set in some New York suburb is hardly reason enough to recommend it.
Also, I challenge anyone to explain to me what this movie has to say that isn't conveyed in the first minute. After that, you sit in the theater wondering if you're going to have to plunge a finger through an eye socket if the pace doesn't pick up. Honestly, this movie simply takes the notion that the suburbs are hell and beats it into the ground. There is no story. It's only called "Judy Berlin" because Judy (Edie Falco) is the only character in the movie who is getting out of there.
Otherwise, Mendelsohn just hops from one character to another, during one day in which there's a solar eclipse, showing how the painfully monotonous condition of suburban living has turned these people into caricatures of actual people. High school principal Arthur Gold (Bob Dishy) can hardly talk while he pines for teacher Sue Berlin (Barbara Barrie). Meanwhile, Arthur's wife, Alice (Madeline Kahn), is a complete nutcase. Her son, David (Aaron Harnick), is a depressed filmmaker. The movie is so pointless that Mendelsohn is forced to explain his goals through David toward the end of the film, lest too many of the audience leave thinking that death might be a preferable alternative to having "Judy Berlin" cross their minds again. Everything this film had to say was said in the first minute. After that, it was torture.
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