For weeks now, Directed By (Showtime, Oct. 23, 10-10:30 p.m.) has been showcasing the directorial efforts of well-known actors, including Kathleen Turner, Danny Glover, and Treat Williams. However, none of the entries has been as audacious as Peter Weller’s Partners. Weller, currently starring with Judy Davis in the feature film The New Age, has directed this comedy of business manners in a genially surreal style.
Griffin Dunne stars as a novice lawyer who goes to meet one of his firm’s wealthiest and most important clients, a crude, loud-mouthed former football player portrayed with frighteningly hilarious intensity by Graham Beckel (Cafe Americain). Dunne is shocked when he realizes that this noisy boor’s unhappy wife (Marg Helgenberger of China Beach) is a former lover of his, and much squirmy embarrassment and romantic hugger-mugger follow. Partners, based on a short story written by Tom McGuane, features a slew of familiar faces playing Dunne’s gray-suited colleagues, including Ed Begley Jr., Airplane!’s Robert Hays, Saturday Night Live’s Kevin Nealon, and L.A. Law’s Alan Rosenberg. And the movie’s portrayal of the corporate world is a nightmare of venal conformity. The movie occasionally goes over the top in its slapstick but is enormous fun. A-