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‘Elliot Fauman, Ph.D.’

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 26, 1990

 


Director:
Ric Klass
Cast:
Randy Dreyfuss;
Michael Gabel;
Jean Kasem;
Tamara Williams
PG-13
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent


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Just when you were saying, "Hey, I haven't seen a hooker movie in at least a couple of days," along comes "Elliot Fauman, Ph.D.," a stumbling farce created by Ric Klass, a local film critic, professor and entrepreneur. The male equivalent of a Harlequin romance, this tiresome zipper-ripper follows the sexploits, such as they are, of a psychology professor who is doing research on sexual dysfunction in hookers. Basically it's "The Owl and the Pussycat" in search of a litter box.

Randy Dreyfuss -- Richard's first cousin -- plays the titular dweebling, an inept academic who is studying non-orgasmic prostitutes in scenic Adams-Morgan. If he cannot convince Bloviate College of his subject's merit, however, he will lose the last tenure slot to Narvis Grubber (Michael Gabel), who is teaching rats to dance ballet. Dumb enough for you yet? No? Well, on we go.

To complete his study, Elliot must find the "perfect woman," none other than an archetypal prostitute who can substantiate his statistical data, whatever that may be. It's probably better that we don't really know. Fortuitously a buxom screen star, Meredith Dashley (Jean "Wife of Casey" Kasem), happens to be preparing for the role of a call girl in a modern version of "Romeo and Juliet." Wouldn't you know? Unable to "feel the subtext," she storms out of the theater and meets Elliot and one of his subjects, Stella (Tamara Williams), a pro got up in red boots and black lace. When Meredith realizes that the two have mistaken her for a working girl, she continues the masquerade to find that subtext.

Both women are attracted to the peevish protagonist -- must be those hearts of gold -- and compete shrewishly for his mewling approval. In further contrivances, Stella and her hooker friends fire their pimp and Meredith's agent agrees to manage the girls, who are soon having upscale sex with congressmen. Meanwhile Elliot's kooky pals -- a doctor, a toy maker and a sports photographer -- make his life oh-so-wackily complicated. A boorish group of louts, the three come over to play board games and catch Elliot in bed with Meredith. Ay-yi-yi. The plot gets even thicker than their heads.

Kasem, who plays a not-so-dumb middle-aged blond, has the only likable part in this rogues' gallery of wimps, sluts and dunderheads. Though covered in orange pancake makeup and showing a bit of wear 'n' tear, she is at least a competent professional, who apparently needed less guidance than the rest of the actors, who are stiff, squirmy and amateurish. Dreyfuss isn't just klunky, he's screen ether.

Of course, it doesn't help that the dialogue is deadly and the premise is pathetic. Elliot, you may have a PhD, but you'll always be sophomoric to us.

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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