New Line // 2002 // 84 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // June 20th, 2003
Some guys have all the luck. These are not those guys.
A group of yuppie goofballs are really sick and tired of the dark, dank club they hang out in every single night, but instead of getting girlfriends or doing some volunteer work, they decide to pool their obviously disposable income and purchase their own dinner dive. Only able to raise a paltry $100K however, which in NYC will get you a 500 square foot one-room loft for about seven months, our band of boobs shark a loan from Jimmy Chips, a local impresario who makes a living out of separating the stupid from their financial security. Once they have cash in hand, it's Olive Garden time! At first, the place is all Bennigan's and Chili's with a steadily deluded clientele waiting to try the beer battered bacon, but after the two-for-one coupons disappear from the Penny Saver circular in the NY Times, reservations dry up faster than the Southwestern-Thai breadsticks. Even an influx of little Italy idgits can't save the sinking feedbag. Leave it to Jimmy. He has a great idea. Why not get a cabaret license and turn life, and the failing franchise, into one big titty bar? But instead of getting a series of high fives from the supposed "men" who are his silent partners, these indecisive "ladies" want to try anything other than naked chicks. Why? Who the hell knows? Maybe they've taken a vow of celibacy. Maybe they despise the objectification of the female form. Or maybe they're the gayest group of morons ever to spit in the mafia's marinara. Either way, someone better think of something fast, or Jimmy is going to take his 200 Gs and his Table One directly out of these clodfellows hides.
Table One had a chance (a very good chance, mind you) of finding away around some obvious flaws to become a clever comic story of losers who finally find a way to succeed. True, it's one of about eighteen gajillion other films that think that organized crime is funny stuff. Certainly, it does try to excavate the GoodFellas goldmine one last time, hoping to get cinematically "made" in the process, and it just about creates a movie offer you can't refuse. It boasts a few moments of genuine wit and humor. It uses ancillary characters to add depth and delight to its atmosphere. And it even boasts a performance of subtle grace and powerful dignity by Burt Young. His character, Jimmy Chips, is the mob boss in question here, but you'd never know it from the way Young underplays him or how the script sets him up. Far more obvious in his channeling of The Sopranos is quite possibly the dopiest of the Baldwins, greasy beefy Stephen. Hair slicked back likes he's raided Pat Riley's medicine cabinet and affecting a foolish "fuggedaboit" Bronx cheer, Steve makes Fat Tony's cartoon cronies look like carefully observed examples of enterprising Italian Americans. He is all mannerisms and macaroni, the ultimate goombah in a dirty surfer's skin. But even his misguided mobster can't completely sink the level of good cheer and confidence that seems to skirt around the edges of Table One like kitty cats at the Friday night fish fry. Indeed, it takes two huge miscalculations by director/writer Michael Bregman to take this tall tale for the ultimate ride down town to the warehouse district to try on some concrete sneakers.
David Herman may be the next great sad sack slacker of dry comedy. Who knows? His cult status secured with Office Space, where he was the unappreciated programmer with the hideously famous name of Michael Bolton, he could be poised to move beyond the comic character parts into pure superstardom. Well, if it ever happens, here's praying that part of his newly inflated paychecks go to tracking down every copy of his horrendous performance in Table One and burning them, one by one, on a sacrificial bonfire. Never before in the history of monkey nuts has there been a thespian hemorrhoid as painful, itchy, swollen, and completely repellant as Herman and his Norman Bader. He's that irritating relative that makes everyone uncomfortable around holiday time with his smarmy, self-important presence. He's disgusting, cowardly, ignorant, obnoxious, and probably smells of vinegar and Altoids. Norman is a disease in search of a host to carry him. Even a mid act name change and last act epiphany can't keep "Lawrence" from rotting like a load of lettuce in the bottom of a dumpster. Single handedly, he is enough to doom Table One to Atros City. But lucky us, he gets some help in the heinousness department from Michael Rooker, taking the concept of the drunken, slovenly sports star to a whole new level of jock itch. His entire groin pull mannerism screams out for the tough actin' action of Tinactin. From the opening sequence where he waves his nasty corn-filled puppies in the other actors' faces as he demands passing women to give him a foot massage to the nonstop feel copping he does to every lady he meets (even if sometimes it's in his mind) his miscreant misogynist of a hockey player reminds one why said sport is only popular in Canada. Like cinematic Terminators, these two actors in these two roles simple destroy Table One. Kyle Reese can travel back in time and try and prevent them ever accepting these parts, but until Stephen Hawking gets off his immobile ass and invents the flux capacitor, we are forever marred by the inhuman horror that are Norman/Lawrence and Rowdy.
New Line gives Table One the typical pedestrian treatment we expect from an off-title piece of merchandise. We get the baffling option of viewing the movie in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation, or a totally tacky full screen open matte image. And while director Bregman will never be confused with some manner of compositional artist, it's better to see the film in letterbox. At least you'll know who's talking to whom and from what side of the table. As for the print itself, it's pristine and sans major digital defects. Sound wise, the Dolby Digital Stereo offers no real channel separation and the aural palette is so limited that there is no real chance at creating ambiance or atmosphere. We can hear the dialogue perfectly fine and perhaps that's all that matters. As for extras, New Line gives us nothing but trailers and access to even more media mung with their DVD-ROM content. No commentary. No behind the scenes featurette. No deleted scenes of Michael Rooker's character drowning off the coast of San Juan or David Herman's Norman taking his own life via meat grinder. Sadly, all we learn about Table One is on the screen, and what is there is neither a complete success nor an outright disaster. If you want to witness two of the absolute worst performances and characters ever created for a movie, slap on this DVD and be prepared for an assault on your sensibilities the like of which you've never known before. Table One could have been a choice gourmet entry. Instead, it's more like raw mullet in mustard sauce.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* DVD-ROM Content