REVIEW: Brendan Fraser and Denis O’Hare costar in ‘Elling’ | Movies | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

newjerseynewsroom.com

Sunday
Sep 21st
  • Login
  • Create an account
    Registration
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    REGISTER_REQUIRED
  • Search
  • Local Business Deals

REVIEW: Brendan Fraser and Denis O’Hare costar in ‘Elling’

Elling1112110_optWhimsical comedy about a Norwegian odd couple makes little impact

BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
BROADWAY REVIEW

Not having read Norwegian writer Ingvar Ambjornsen's novel "Elling" nor seen the 2002 film drawn from it, I cannot assess how faithfully his story regarding two misfits has been adapted for the stage.

Opening on Sunday at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, "Elling" turns out to be a thin little comedy about a Norwegian odd couple.

Roommates in a mental institution, compulsive-obsessive loner Elling (Denis O'Hare) and sweet, dull-witted hulk Kjell (Brendan Fraser) are released for a trial stay in Oslo where they share an apartment. The play studies their fumbling adjustment to the real world as Elling eventually becomes unlikely friends with a famed poet and Kjell is smitten with a hard-partying pregnant neighbor.

Playwright Simon Bent treats the episodic story as a mildly whimsical comedy as the middle aged men slowly expand their horizons. Elling begins to write. Kjell discovers phone sex. Beds are repeatedly dragged from one side of the room to another. The fridge is crammed with sauerkraut. They go to a restaurant, attend a poetry slam and visit a cabin in the country.

Elling2112110_optPresumably we are meant to be touched and beguiled by these guys. Unfortunately, Bent drags their uneventful doings out for two acts and director Doug Hughes' wishy-washy production generates only intermittent laughs and scant emotional resonance.

Making his Broadway debut, Fraser boisterously portrays Kjell as an overgrown child with a potbelly and a sweet, loopy smile. The prickly Elling is intensely depicted by O'Hare as a twitchy, fast-talking, know-it-all. The costars are capable but share no significant chemistry as actors. The supreme act of friendship when their characters exchange underpants should be a key moment in the play but staged by Hughes for neither comedy nor drama it merely looks uncomfortable.

The featured actors do first rate work. Richard Easton offers a benevolent presence as the old writer who befriends Elling. Jeremy Shamos breezes in and out as a scruffy social worker. Playing four different characters, Jennifer Coolidge throws off a very funny turn as a humorless poet and later manifests the essentially warm nature of the woozy neighbor Kjell comes to love.

Lacking significant dramatic punch and outstanding performances, "Elling" adds little excitement to the Broadway season.

"Elling" continues through March 20 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St., New York. Call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.ellingonbroadway.com.

ALSO BY MICHAEL SOMMERS

REVIEW: 1950s ‘Bells Are Ringing' chimes this weekend

REVIEW: ‘A Free Man of Color' challenges audiences

REVIEW: Al Pacino and Lily Rabe illuminate a dark ‘Merchant of Venice'

REVIEW: Hear how ‘Mistakes Were Made'

REVIEW: Gay sci-fi doings yield lowdown laughs

REVIEW: ‘Elf' musical tunes up a Christmas comedy

REVIEW: Radio City ‘Christmas Spectacular' dazzles

REVIEW: Pee-wee Herman knows what to ‘Show'

REVIEW: Windy ‘After the Revolution' winds down

REVIEW: Colin Quinn tells ‘Long Story Short' with Jerry Seinfeld touches

REVIEW: Big Apple Circus dances away for the kiddy crowd

REVIEW: Sexy ‘Women' throw a festive Broadway party

REVIEW: Liberal family values characterize ‘That Hopey Changey Thing'

REVIEW: Existential ‘Middletown' regards life

REVIEW: Bush years exert their toll on American souls in new drama

REVIEW: ‘The Scottsboro Boys' thrills with Broadway expertise

REVIEW: ‘Wings' and ‘Spirit Control' regard flying

REVIEW: ‘Angels in America' lands again in New York

Review: Beatles tribute ‘Rain' pours out 30 hits

Review: Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones propel ‘Driving Miss Daisy'

JOIN US AT NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM:

IN OUR NEWSROOM

ON FACEBOOK

ON TWITTER

 

Add your comment

Your name:
Subject:
Comment:

Follow/join us

Twitter: njnewsroom Linked In Group: 2483509