And Robert Rothbard's "The Life and Times of Charlie Putz"
- whose producers claim to have accomplished all of the above for
the low, low price of $40,000 - does do some of what it does
well, though it works best
Chief among them is Charlie Putz, as sad a sack as has hit the screen in many years. Michael Townsend Wright as Charlie has a lovely voice - when he sings, he's transformed - and an original style. But while he may become a little tramp in the course of the film, he lacks the Chaplinesque quality of transcendent, universal pathos. Charlie Putz may evoke sympathy, but not empathy.
Recently fired from his job as an elevator operator, Charlie is in love with the overweight Melody (Clara Bengino), who loves him and lives with her foul-mouthed mother (a hilariously unhinged Mollie Tarranto), who hates him. Also in the household is Melody's brother Marty (Michael Frawley), a bad-tempered pseudo-stud who's best friends with Charlie, and a large butcher named Joey Bag a Donuts (Greg Lipari).
Everybody's crazy or unhappy, except the childlike Charlie, until his father throws him out (in his pajamas) and he quickly becomes homeless.
Charlie's adventures in unemployment involve selling Sux-a-Lot vacuum
cleaners, being interviewed by a traumatized shoe salesman and having
several fantasy sequences before his luck changes. Melody, meanwhile, goes
on a diet. If all is not well, or sane, in the world of Charlie Putz, it's
tidy, even if Rothbard's shifting from the wacky to the weepy and
back again shows more daring than deftness. He has a good cast, though,
some good ideas and even if he tries too hard most of the time, the scene
of Charlie getting handouts in a diner on Christmas Eve is a guaranteed
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