Duchovny's 'D' for Drivel; Hokey Melodrama 'House' Is Writing, Directing Debut

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 29, 2005 | Go to article overview

Duchovny's 'D' for Drivel; Hokey Melodrama 'House' Is Writing, Directing Debut


Byline: Gary Arnold, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

"House of D" is a stupefying dose of the facetious and sappy from "The X Files' " David Duchovny, who is making an everybody-duck writing-directing debut.

In this coming-of-age groaner, Mr. Duchovny casts himself as the adult incarnation of his adolescent protagonist, Tommy Warshaw. From an extended Parisian exile, Tom harks back to a traumatic adolescent turning point as Tommy, a Greenwich Village lad of the early 1970s, destined to flee to France by his lonesome at the unlikely age of 13, owing to the sequence of events deemed heartbreaking yet uplifting by Mr. Duchovny.

Tommy (Anton Yelchin) seems to have existed under alternately rollicking and wrenching influences. The recent death of his father has left a cloud of tragedy. Tommy's widowed mother, portrayed by the filmmaker's wife (Tea Leoni, exceedingly unlucky in her choice of roles in recent months) is on a fast track to suicidal depression.

The boy derives what fun and consolation he can from being a smarty-pants scholarship student at a nearby Episcopal school (with Frank Langella as a droll headmaster). He also pals around with a devoted sidekick, a lovable middle-aged child called Pappass, evidently their lewdly fond pronunciation of Pappas.

A beau geste for Robin Williams, who celebrates the challenge by cultivating a droopy lower lip and exaggerated scowl that make him resemble a stubby caricature of Walter Matthau, Pappass works as a janitor at the school and shares part-time delivery work with Tommy for a local deli.

Between attempts to cheer up mom (and ignore the fact that she intrudes repeatedly to use the toilet while he's trying to shower in private), Tommy acquires a fleeting uptown sweetheart, Melissa (Zelda Williams, winsome daughter of Robin). A classmate from Central Park West, she coyly places special orders that require Tommy and Pappass to pedal awesome distances on their delivery cart. …

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