Two close cousins, Richie and Evan, go to Atlantic City and are down to their final quarters when Richie asks Evan to lend him fifty cents so he can bet the max one last time. He wins the jackpot.
Writer: Larry David
Director: Larry David
Stars: Steven Weber, Craig Bierko and Jack Burns
Runtime/Rating: 137 Minutes/ R
Popcorn Score: Medium Popcorn with Butter
Admittedly, I am an over the top Seinfeld, and Curb your Enthusiasm fan so I was incredibly excited to revisit the full length feature comedy “Sour Grapes” that Larry David wrote and directed in his brief hiatus between the two hit shows. I went to Amazon.com to purchase the DVD because, slightly ashamed in myself, I felt that I should own it as a part of the complete Larry David/Seinfeld collection. I was fortunate enough to purchase the DVD for $0.01 and only pay $2.99 for shipping. Now that $3.00 in some people’s minds is a huge rip-off, most notably Roger Ebert who gave Sour Grapes a half-star out of 4 saying he “Can’t easily remember a film [he’s] enjoyed less” while adding the movie to his yearly Most Hated List for 1998.
Say that I am blinded by my Larry David/ Seinfeld love, but I thought the movie was fantastic. Fantastic? OK, very, very funny. After I enjoyed it I purchased another copy of the DVD for my Dad who is also a LD/Seinfeld fan and I explained to him that the plot is ridiculous, the characters are terrible and that no one in the world would ever react to situations the way the characters do in this movie ….Sound familiar?
The movie is about two close cousins Richie and Evan who head to Atlantic City together with their girlfriends, they are burning through their final quarters on slot machines when Richie asks Evan to lend him fifty cents so he can bet the max one last time. He wins the jackpot. The rest of the movie they are hilariously (I believe) ruining their lifelong family friendship over how the money should be distributed.
It is such a Larry David plot at first glance, and only he would have the ability to turn this unlikely social situation where there are no rules into a full length comedy. It is the basis of all Seinfeld shows starting with the pilot that he of course co-wrote. Put people into situations that are unlikely and in which there are no social rules and no one knows how to act, and see how it turns out. Of course there are other stories that pop up with tangents and jokes to those stories that are all so Larry David/ Seinfeldesque that make watching Sour Grapes feel like you have uncovered a lost Seinfeld episode. It is a fantastic feeling for someone who still laughs out loud at the classic reruns of the show and is dreading the unfortunate end to Curb your Enthusiasm in the coming years.
Now, as much as I strongly disagree with Roger Ebert, I do not want to paint the wrong picture. This movie is not pure gold and I certainly wouldn’t place it as a whole above many Seinfeld/Curb episodes. But those are very high standards in my book!
In the 90’s Seinfeld created “Must See TV”, if you are someone that still loves Seinfeld and have followed Larry David to HBO with Curb Your Enthusiasm, I would say for you, Sour Grapes is “Must See TV”. I know it was for me…maybe just not Roger Ebert.
Medium Popcorn With Butter.