WALKING ON THE SKYR
Pulling a Sly Stallone, Carl T. Evans has written his own ticket to stardom and done it (i.e., directed it) himself with Walking on the Sky, a less-than-high-flown affair in which six thirty-somethings assemble to sort out the suicide of a friend and console themselves.
Sound familiar? It should. The years (more than 20 of them), as well as the low budget and lack of star power, do nothing to disguise this Big Chill redux. Indeed, the familiarity of the turf goes against the grain of this new entry and makes it little more than a faint echo of Lawrence Kasdan's landmark New Faces of 1983 vehicle. Evans, in fact, seems to have gone to some effort to retrace Kasdan's exact steps.
The one flourish he adds to this multi-charactered clam-wake is the newly retrieved secret diary of the deceased. Everybody gets to do a responsive reading from it and then flash back over their chaotically troubled times with him. (All have stories to tell, but not many honor the dead.) The reason given for this questionably tasteless beyond-the-grave invasion of privacy is the hope that in the writings is some clue to why he offed himself.
Dream on. That's the company line. The real reason is the scenery-chewing such a situation invites, and it is handled as a whole with skill and competency by some vaguely recognizable faces. Evans of "Guiding Light" regularity has recruited five fellow soap players to splash about in the billowing bathos. They do it as if to the manner born.
Of course, Evans saves the best role for himself-the black sheep of the group-and does splendidly with it, but Susan Misner, Randall Batinkoff, Chris Henry Coffey, Kristen Marie Holly and Nicole Fonarow hold the line of fully-formed-actors-at-play quite well.
No doubt Kevin Costner would have approved of this story presentation. As the never-fully-seen suicide victim of The Big Chill, he didn't survive the opening credits in which his corpse was prepared for funeral-parlor presentation. Michael Knowles, as the suicide here, has the luxury of psychic replay and comes back to interact with his friends.