Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 1998. JD Productions. Screenplay by David Veloz, based on the book by Jerry Stahl. Cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman. Produced by Jane Hamsher, Don Murphy. Music by Daniel Licht. Production Design by Jerry Fleming. Costume Design by Lori Eskowitz-Carter, Louise Mingenbach. Film Editing by Cara Silverman, Steven Weisberg. Toronto International Film Festival 1998.
Forgettable recount of the turbulent battle with heroin addiction fought by Jerry Stahl, a television writer who contributed to shows like Alf and Thirtysomething before getting too strung out to work. Ben Stiller is strong in the lead but the film is too short and fails to build up any momentum. There’s not much more to it than some disgusting encounters with Stahl’s addiction (including mishandling of his baby daughter), and a series of cameos by highly talented actors (Janeane Garofalo, Connie Nielsen, Owen Wilson, and Cheryl Ladd, who is still absolutely stunning). Maria Bello has the best scenes as a fellow rehab survivor with whom Stahl shares his experiences, and Elizabeth Hurley is lovely (but underused) as his green-card wife.