On Demand Welcomes THE PERFECT HOSTJune 08, 2011
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE PERFECT HOST (Magnolia Pictures).
On Demand Welcomes THE PERFECT HOST
By Chris Claro
Though they’re still around today, via such networks as Lifetime, Hallmark, and SyFy, the made-for-TV movie had its heyday in the 1970s. B-level features that ran anywhere from 70 to 95 minutes, TV movies had the feel of the lower half of a double bill. With their pulpy plots and recognizable character actors, they were junk food, a cinematic bag of Bugles with special guest star Dick Van Patten.
As I watched THE PERFECT HOST, I was transported back to the days of my nerdy youth, when, on many a Saturday night, stuck in a three-network hell, I consumed thousands of those empty TV-movie calories.
A tight little comic thriller that – almost – moves quickly enough to leap over its fairly prodigious plot holes, David Hyde-Pierce is the eponymous character, an effete Angeleno named Warwick who is putting the finishing touches on a dinner party in anticipation of the arrival of his guests. After John, a crook on the run from the police, ingratiates his way into Warwick’s house, each man employs wits and will to maintain dominance over the other.
Hyde-Pierce is one of those truly talented actors who can disappear into a role and make the audience forget his eleven-year stint as fussy Niles on FRASIER. His slow, deliberate revelation of what drives Warwick is one of the film’s biggest pluses. Swishy one minute, menacing the next, Hyde-Pierce calibrates his performance for maximum laughs.
THE PERFECT HOST contains one of the most curious bits of casting since Tony Danza played a Japanese businessman on THE LOVE BOAT: an appearance by the one and only Helen Reddy as Warwick’s inquisitive, old-biddy neighbor. Helen Reddy! The 70s female-empowerment balladeer returns to the screen for the first time since her triumph in Disney’s PETE’S DRAGON in 1977. Reddy’s character only turns up in a couple of scenes, but her presence is disconcerting, to say the least.
The endlessly turning tables that make up the meat of THE PERFECT HOST are the film’s strongest attribute. As writer-director Nick Tomnay pits Warwick against Clayne Crawford’s John, the motives of each man begin to come into focus and lead THE PERFECT HOST to an unpredictable if far-fetched wrap up.
Nick Tomnay / THE PERFECT HOST (Magnolia)
THE PERFECT HOST is the perfect film for fans of those long-ago days of tidy, twisty, low-budget thrillers.
Thanks to the presence of the endlessly watchable David Hyde-Pierce and a script whose secrets are best left unrevealed here, the film’s modest charms compensate for its leaps in logic. Grab a bag of Bugles and dive in.
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com
Look for THE PERFECT HOST (Magnolia Pictures) under your cable system's Movie On Demand section.
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