title: SMOTHER
year: 2007
cast: Dax Shepard, Diane Keaton, Liv Tyler, Ken Howard
rating: ***

I've always preferred Diane Keaton's cynical/neurotic character in "Manhattan" slightly over the optimist/neurotic in "Annie Hall", and here she plays both and a little bit of the nosey next-door neighbor from "Bewitched" thrown in. A fine little indie comedy about an affable fellow (Dax Shepard) who lives with his way-too-hot girlfriend (Liv Tyler) and her brother, a wannabe scriptwriter, in a small apartment. Then mom (Keaton), who has just split from dad (Ken Howard, who looks quite different from his "White Shadow" days), moves in and makes his already tortured life more troublesome. Dax has that sensitive seventies guy thing going much like John Ritter and Richard Benjiman - you feel safe enough with him to laugh at his insults which aren't meant for cruelty but as cat-jabs to get him out of corners, mostly painted by his mother who just can't leave him alone. It's all great fun and the glib humor never lets up. And although his relationship with mom is the focal point, scenes involving Shepard and his stuffy, bullying, perverted boss at a carpet store are probably the funniest.

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