Who Am I This Time (1982)

Based on the short story by Kurt Vonnegut Jr, “Who Am I This Time?” tells the story of Harry and Helene amongst the backdrop of small town America theatre.

Where: Amazon Prime
Rating: TV-PG
Release Type: Television

+15 for Christopher Walken. At first I felt like he was over-acting (doesn’t he just?), but as the episode (and yes this was an episode of American Playhouse) continued, I started noticing the subtleties of the role. He ultimately played it beautifully. What’s oddly funny is that it seemed like he was such a young actor at the time; but by 1982 Walken had (technically) been acting for 30 years.
+15 for Susan Sarandon. Like Walken, at first she seemed a bit weak; but as the hour progressed she really owned the role.
And with that comment, honestly I do wonder if it was an artistic choice that at first they were awkward with their roles. Knowing the plot of the story; it ultimately makes sense.
+5 for Robert Ridgely, who plays the director. He started off strong and kept going well.

Score: 35

Production (Writing/Directing/Soundtrack, etc…)
+10 for good direction and cinematography. It is based on a short story and it wasn’t even a full hour long so I’m giving everything a bit of a leeway. But the pacing was good and the shots were well done.
+15 for a great plot. I know I read the short story in junior high; and I’m pretty sure we watched this as well. This is one of those stories where shy, awkward kids can totally relate to.

Score: 25

+1 for watching again. When a friend recommended this one to me I, at first, thought, oh that looks interesting. But then I realized it was based on a Vonnegut story and then I remembered having read the story and then I realized that I had likely seen this episode. I was ecstatic as the chance of watching it again. I could totally see watching it again in the future; but it wouldn’t go into any sort of rotation.
+3 for family friendliness. There’s a tiny scene where Stanley/Harry/Stella/Helene are on stage and are obviously falling in love but its overall pretty clean.
+2 for diversity. So… I was pretty surprised when right out of the gate several of the stage actors where minorities; and then the audience was quite diverse. Even though the leads were all white; I was happy to see that the backdrop represented well.
+5 for the quote, “There’s not a better way to meeting a bunch of nice people than by doing a play.”

Score: 12

Score: 72

Housekeeping Note: Television movies generally don’t rate very well, so this score should be in comparison to other TV movies rather than theatrical. By scoring a 72 it ranks as one of the best tv movies I’ve seen since I’ve been doing this blog. In other words; do yourself a favor and watch this one.

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