Washed Out Picnic
Hal Carter (Josh Brolin - The Goonies) arrives in the small town of Neewollan to see his old college friend Alan (Ben Caswell) as having spent the years since college bumming around until now feels the need to start acting responsibly and find work. But the arrival of handsome Hal stirs things up as the beautiful Madge Owens (Gretchen Mol - Rounders) who is dating Alan finds him exciting as does her sister Millie (Chad Morgan). As they head to the Labour Day picnic tension mounts between everyone as some truths are uncovered.
It has been a long time since I watched the 1955 version of "Picnic" but as I watched this 2000 version of William Inge's play I couldn't get it out of my head. And trust me that isn't a good thing as whilst I expected this TV movie version of "Picnic" to have some issues it ended up dwarfed by the 1955 version making it feel seriously inferior.
The thing is that the basic storyline is still there with the entrance of Hal to town raising the temperature and temperaments on Labour Day and as such his arrival brings out some home truths. Yes it changes the era, shifting it forwards a few years to the 60s but that isn't too much of an issue as on a small budget it creates some thing close to the 60s. But it just never sizzles like the original and sort of reminds me of a high school production of a big movie with a small supporting cast and so on.
Part of the trouble is that whilst the cast has the look they don't have the character. Take Josh Brolin and Gretchen Mol, both attractive in their own rights but that is all there is to them; there is no sizzling sexual chemistry there. It is the same with all the cast and Mary Steenburgen who as Rosemary is suppose to be the frustrated Spinster comes across as more of a Cougar. Basically in adapting Inge's play this time around the characters end up being lost and this is a movie all about the characters.
What this all boils down to is that "Picnic" the 2000 made for TV version might just work for those who have never seen the 1955 version but for those who have it is weak and lacks the sexual power of the original.