PANIC

(2000)
With William H. Macy, Neve Campbell, Tracey Ullman, John Ritter, Barbara Bain, Donald Sutherland, David Dorfman
Directed by Henry Bromell
Reviewed by JB

Panic     The initial premise - "mobster in therapy" - might sound familiar, but PANIC is neither ANALYZE THIS nor THE SOPRANOS - it is just a subdued little film (despite the title) about the midlife crisis of a suburban family man, who happens to be a hit man.

     Written and directed by TV director Henry Bromell, PANIC is so small, quiet and methodically paced, it sometimes veers into "get on with it!" territory.  Yet the cast (top-heavy with stars who came to fame on television) keeps PANIC highly watchable.  Who better than the hangdog William H. Macy, with his ability to keep his thoughts and emotions just bubbling under the surface of his craggy face, to play the emotionally trapped hit man Alex?  The late John Ritter, whose sitcom career overshadowed a fine sideline hobby as a character actor, scores in the small but important part as the psychiatrist who attempts to guide Alex through his troubles, while Neve Campbell brings spirited aloofness to the part of a sensual and troubled young woman with whom Macy contemplates having an affair.  Comic actress Tracy Ullman does a wonderful job as Macy's devoted yet clueless wife, while Barbara Bain (Mission: Impossible, Space: 1999) and Donald Sutherland are coldly frightening as Macy's seemingly normal small town parents who casually run a miniature Murder Incorporated out of their suburban home.

       PANIC is an obscure movie (it premiered on cable and had a short theatrical release thereafter), but one worth seeking out, even if just for the eclectic cast alone. ½ - JB

Quirky Favorites     The Stuff You Gotta Watch

Stuff You Gotta Watch
http://thestuffyougottawatch.com
Copyright © 2010 John V. Brennan, John Larrabee