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The Amateurs

5.0 1
Director: Michael Traeger

Cast: Jeff Bridges, Ted Danson, William Fichtner


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A man down on his luck hatches a different kind of get-rich-quick scheme in this independent comedy. Andy Sargentee (Jeff Bridges) is a middle-aged divorcé who is down in the dumps after the departure of his wife, Thelma (Jeanne Tripplehorn), and son, Billy (Alex D. Linz).


A man down on his luck hatches a different kind of get-rich-quick scheme in this independent comedy. Andy Sargentee (Jeff Bridges) is a middle-aged divorcé who is down in the dumps after the departure of his wife, Thelma (Jeanne Tripplehorn), and son, Billy (Alex D. Linz). The fact that Thelma's new hubby is quite wealthy only makes things more troubling for Andy, and he keeps thinking that if he had more money he could be back in her good graces. One night, while knocking back drinks with his friends, Andy has a brainstorm -- pornography is big business these days, so why not round up the local talent and make an adult movie? Andy persuades his friend Barney (Tim Blake Nelson) to sign on as co-producer, and they start putting together a crew, including Emmett (Patrick Fugit), a kid with a video camera who becomes director of photography; Otis (William Fichtner), who volunteers to be the gofer who doesn't really do anything; and as director a guy known only by his nickname, Some Idiot (Joe Pantoliano). Casting proves to be a bit more problematic, especially after they discover that Moose (Ted Danson), who has been cast in the male lead, may be gay when he repeatedly fails to rise to the occasion. The Amateurs also stars Lauren Graham, Valerie Perrine, and Glenne Headly as some of the local women drafted into appearing in the movie; the picture was released in the United Kingdom under the title The Moguls.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The DVD back cover of The Amateurs makes the unusual (and potentially self-incriminating) decision to print a quotation from its star, Jeff Bridges, in the spot usually reserved for the kind of breathless critical praise that's truncated by ellipses and peppered by exclamation points. In that quotation, Bridges likens the The Amateurs to "if Frank Capra directed a porn movie," and he just may be onto something. There's an undeniable sweetness to this story about small-town shlubs pooling their collective pluck to make an adult film, and to call it Capraesque is not really exaggerating. That may be the only way for any light comedy to deal with the issue of pornography, because ultimately, these characters are just too darn nice to exploit another human. However, this doesn't mean that writer-director Michael Traeger's script can't occasionally indulge in its grin-inducing naughty side. The real key to the film's infectious tone is Bridges himself, who defies the medium's "show don't tell" mandate by submitting a steady stream of conversational narration. It's like the viewer is chatting with Bridges in his living room, as he entertains with humorous, self-aware asides about filmmaking; he welcomes his listeners rather than alienating them with esoteric industry-speak. After all, these are just plain folks with the contagious twinkle of Hollywood in their eyes, including the eminently likeable ensemble of Ted Danson, William Fichtner, Patrick Fugit, Tim Blake Nelson, Glenne Headly, Lauren Graham, and Joe Pantoliano -- this last playing the film's hapless director, affectionately known as "Some Idiot", or "Some" for short. For a concept that could have been too indie-clever for its own good, The Amateurs has a real, well, amateur's sense of humility. Not only does that remove it from the realm of the tawdry, but the film's crowd-pleasing good vibes are almost downright wholesome.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Alchemy / Millennium
Region Code:

Special Features

Commentary - With Jeff Bridges, director Michael Traeger, producer Aaron Ryder; Behing the scenes with the Amateurs; The Amateurs photography book; Photos by Jeff Bridges - With commenatry by Jeff Bridges, director Michael Traeger, producer Aaron Ryder; Theatrical trailer; More from First Look previews

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jeff Bridges Andy Sargentee
Ted Danson Moose
William Fichtner Otis
Patrick Fugit Emmett
Lauren Graham Peggy
Glenne Headly Helen Tatelbaum
Tim Blake Nelson Barney Macklehatton
Joe Pantoliano Some Idiot
Jeanne Tripplehorn Thelma
Isaiah Washington Homer
Judy Greer Ellie
John Hawkes Moe
Brad Henke Ron
Tom Bower Floyd
Dawn Didawick Clara
Jayne Taini Mrs. Morelli
Alex D. Linz Billy
Steven Weber Howard
Melinda Dahl Charlene
Valerie Perrine V
Fiona Hunter Veronica
Eileen Brennan Mrs. Cherkiss
Troy R. Brenna Ernest
Brad Garrett Wally
Elden Henson Salesman
Aldo Bigante Jack
Elliot Cates Reverend
Norm O'Neill Clara's Man

Technical Credits
Michael Traeger Director,Screenwriter
Nancy Nayor Battino Casting
Raul Davalos Editor
Brandee Dell'Aringa Art Director
Laura Greenlee Co-producer
Michael Kuhn Executive Producer
Denis Maloney Cinematographer
Larry Marks Musical Direction/Supervision
Ernesto Martinez Costumes/Costume Designer
Nancy Nayor Casting
Whit Norris Sound/Sound Designer
John O'Rourke Asst. Director
Malcolm Ritchie Executive Producer
Aaron Ryder Producer
Jill Tandy Executive Producer
Nicolaas TenBroek Score Composer
Mark Wolfe Co-producer
Colleen Woodcock Associate Producer
Bob Ziembicki Production Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Amateurs
1. Andy's Story [14:10]
2. A Plan [5:42]
3. The Crew [6:53]
4. Female Casting [8:29]
5. Script Issues [4:46]
6. The Opportunity [4:02]
7. The Search [6:48]
8. Potential Date [8:27]
9. Filming Continues [18:39]
10. Angry Ernest [5:25]
11. New Direction [9:53]
12. End Credits [4:54]


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The Amateurs 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
THE AMATEURS is about as close to the quality of British film comedies (a high compliment indeed!) as we have seen, thanks to writer/director Michael Traeger. It is everything a small town community aura represents without the stumbling blocks of cruelty that so often provide the turning point in 'rural stories' that defame the simple homespun humanity that is too often foreign to the big city life. Perhaps to refer to it as 'sweet' will rile some review readers, but for this viewer the overriding emotion at the close of the story is just that - sweet, in the finest sense of the term. The film is narrated by the down and out, unemployed, newly divorced middle-aged crisis victim Andy Sargentee (Jeff Bridges) who spends his time in the local watering hole trying to come up with an idea that will change his fortune - and life. Giving up his marriage to Thelma (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and his son Billy (Alex D. Linz) has been painful but Andy believes he will somehow regain their respect by discovering his 'big idea'. Surrounding him are other underachievers such as Some Idiot (Joe Pantoliano), Barney Macklehatton (Tim Blake Nelson) hopelessly in love with loony dreamer Helen (Glenne Headly), church janitor Otis (William Fichtner), local video store worker and video buff Emmett (Patrick Fugit), Moe/Ron (John Hawkes and Brad William Henke) who are never seen alone, the closeted gay Moose (Ted Danson), and bartender Floyd (Tom Bower) among other 'observers'. A wild idea occurs to Andy: he and his friends could make an amateur porn film and make money and gain fame. Out of both love of Andy and individual needs to make something of their boring existence in the little town, the group commits to helping Andy with his project. How the steps succeed and fail underline the integrity and unconditional friendship these simple people represent. Along the way we meet the porn film's stars including Valerie Perrine, Judy Greer, Fiona Hunter, Isaiah Washington, Melinda Dahl - all of whom eagerly participate in the 'very private' filming concept of an amateur porn film. How the final product is threatened and ultimately survives produces the warm ending to the film. And along the way we get to know Thelma's new husband Howard (Steven Weber) who breaks the stereotype of the rich new stepfather, and these small town folk including Dawn Didawick, Jayne Taini, Lauren Graham, and Eileen Brennan (who contributes a very special cameo role). The film has been named THE MOGULS and DIRTY MOVIE in other countries and perhaps that confusion of titles has been part of the problem of the lack of promotion the film received in the theaters. But in a way, seeing this very special movie in home surroundings adds to the intimacy and the very warmly honest view of the genuinely kind and caring interrelationships among the people of this small town. There is much to be learned from this film and the added features include the writer/director sharing the experience with each of the actors in this truly ensemble work. Highly recommended. Grady Harp