Hopefully this will in turn lead some of the newsgroup users here to
search out the films of this neglected but highly respected (by his
peers in the Independent film community) writer/director.
Originally posted February 6, 2000
IN DEFENSE OF ERIC SCHAEFFER
Hollywood is filled with so many poseurs and con artists that when a
filmmaker comes along as honest and agreeable as Eric Schaeffer, he
tends to be dismissed by critics who have all too often been
conditioned to accept superficial Hollywood gloss or pretentious
artsiness as symbols of respectability.
Schaeffer is neither superficial nor pretentious. His sense of humor
rivals vintage Woody Allen and his grasp of character is on par with
Jean Renoir. While directors like Martin Scorsese and Brian DePalma
slog through their careers (see FEMME FATALE and the upcoming GANGS),
content on making the same films over and over, Schaeffer valiantly
exposes his personal life onscreen, searching for the truth, while
making audiences feel both uncomfortable for his brazeness and
grateful for his unflinching honesty.
Schaeffer's IF LUCY FELL is a breathtaking meditation on the desperate
state of contemporary relationships. It manages to be both side
splittingly funny as well as searingly candid. What other director
could possibly make a conversation about saliva so compelling, so
vital? In confronting his own vulnerability, his own yearning for the
quest for perfect love, Schaeffer has created one of the few modern
Schaeffer's followup, FALL (the title bearing an obvious connection to
IF LUCY FELL), lacks the sizzling presence of Elle MacPherson, but the
film is almost as dazzling. The film, which is clearly based in part
on Schaeffer's brief relationship with MacPherson, recounts a funny
but achingly realistic tale of a cab driver who falls in love with a
supermodel. There is no phony, tacked on Hollywood happy ending here,
just the plain, painful truth. NOTTING HILL is a vapid piece of
Hollywood trash in comparison to FALL's purity of personal vision.
With WIREY SPINDELL, Schaeffer gets even more personal, examining the
various factors that have contributed to his maturity and his offbeat
personality. He does this in a wildly hilarious and brilliantly
eccentric manner that puts the Farrelly Brothers to shame. Not even
David Lynch could come up with a film of such crazed genius. If you
have a chance to catch this film at a local theater, by all means do
so. It demands to be viewed on a bigscreen.
And now there is NEVER AGAIN. No, it is not quite the masterpiece
that IF LUCY FELL is, but surely it is the most ambitious, compelling
and achingly funny portrait of post-middle age romance that cinema has
ever seen. It points toward a growing maturity in Schaeffer's work
that is quite astonishing when one considers how much younger he is
than directors working in similar terrain such as Mike Leigh, Paul Cox
and Eric Rohmer (three filmmakers who would do well to re-energize
themselves by studying Schaeffer's filmography).
While Kevin Smith, P.T. and Wes Anderson get all the hype, it is Eric
Schaeffer who has blossomed to become our most cherished of
independent filmmakers. As he continues his growth as a filmmaker and
his journeys toward self discovery, he will remain American cinema's
most compelling chronicler of contemporary relationships. I suspect
that most of the criticism levelled at him is by those who are jealous
that such a down-to-earth, unassuming fellow could be capable of
producing such wonderful pieces of art. The rest of us will merely be
grateful that such an honest and insightful filmmaker can exist
outside the morass of Hollywood in order to create uncompromising
films that both tickle our funnybones while touching our hearts.
> Schaeffer's IF LUCY FELL is a breathtaking meditation on the desperate
> state of contemporary relationships....Schaeffer has created one of
> the few modern day masterpieces.
"There is an affectation that I find particularly annoying, and that is
when people choose to perform at a level below their natural
intelligence....It's not often you find this voluntary dimwittedness in
a movie, but _If Lucy Fell_ offers a depressing example..."
-- Roger Ebert
"_If Lucy Fell_ is navel-gazing as spectator sport, and the appeal of
that is something I most certainly do not get."
-- Scott Renshaw
"Essentially, I found this movie meaningless."
-- Verona, IMDb user review
"...[a] tedious exercise that holds your interest for about an hour."
-- John Hartl, Film.com
"...a whiney, talky, stagnant movie that's more pretentious than
romantic, and more dull than funny. _If Lucy Fell_ trips early on, and
keeps stumbling for most of its ninety-two minute running length."
-- James Berardinelli
"Had the male protagonist [Eric Schaeffer] at least an iota of charisma,
this romantic comedy might have sparked."
-- _Box Office_ magazine
"I want to know who in their right mind thought that this film would
appeal to anyone on the planet."
-- Chuck Dowling, _Jacksonville Film Journal_
"The truth is that Schaeffer...can neither write, direct nor act. His
characters are sketchy and his storytelling arbitrary. He can't sustain
a narrative flow, his staging is clumsy and his few ideas are only
-- Hal Hinson, _The Washington Post_
36% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes:
> Schaeffer's followup, FALL (the title bearing an obvious connection to
> IF LUCY FELL), lacks the sizzling presence of Elle MacPherson, but the
> film is almost as dazzling. The film, which is clearly based in part
> on Schaeffer's brief relationship with MacPherson, recounts a funny
> but achingly realistic tale of a cab driver who falls in love with a
"...just as with _If Lucy Fell_ the story is an excuse to feed
Schaeffer's ego and make his stalker-like obsession with Super-models
-- Erin Gilmer, Bad Movie Night
> With WIREY SPINDELL, Schaeffer gets even more personal, examining the
> various factors that have contributed to his maturity and his offbeat
> personality. He does this in a wildly hilarious and brilliantly
> eccentric manner that puts the Farrelly Brothers to shame.
"It would be generous to suggest that Schaeffer is willing to let
himself be unlikeable; more likely, he’s just not deft enough as an
actor to make himself likeable....Schaeffer’s career to date suggests an
inability to craft stories that look past the end of his own nose, or
even to find charm in what’s on his end of that nose."
-- Scott Renshaw, _Apollo Guide_
"...a naked attempt at _Jerry Maguire_-style profundity...that
ellicited, I believe, roughly 47 temple rubs and 13 audible 'Jesus'es
between my companion and I....make no mistake; it is not a good film."
--Brent Simon, _Entertainment Today_
33% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes:
> And now there is NEVER AGAIN.
Another resounding 33% fresh rating:
"[Jill] Clayburgh and [Jeffrey] Tambor are charming performers; neither
of them deserves Eric Schaeffer."
-- Owen Gleiberman, _Entertainment Weekly_
"Excruciatingly unfunny and pitifully unromantic."
-- Stephen Hunter, _Washington Post_
"Rarely does a film so graceless and devoid of merit as this one come
along....not a movie, but rather a filmed record of a group of misguided
actors seeing a deeply wrong-headed project through to its conclusion."
-- Ray Conlogue, _The Globe and Mail_
"...this execrable exercise in filmmaking...In a career where this
would-be auteur seems constantly to reach for the bottom, _Never Again_
represents a new nadir....Please, someone, stop Eric Schaeffer before he
makes another film."
--Pam Grady, Reel.com
---------------douglas bailey (trys...@world.std.com)---------------
this week dragged past me so slowly; the days fell on their knees...
Steven Chung wrote:
> In article <ccpC9.51825$WL3.21202@rwcrnsc54>, Pravin <p...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> # I can't tell if this was meant to be sarcastic or the guy is eric's agent.
> When he first posted this stuff it was decided he was Eric's mom.
It would have to be. Eric Schaeffer may be, hands down, the *least* talented
filmmaker to be continually allowed behind a camera. His movies are torturous,
amateurish, annoying dreck.
How he keeps scraping together funding for films is beyond me.
(and I say that knowing that Joel Schumacher and Harmony Korine are still
- Orson "Is it hip to hate Ed Burns Too" Locke
Douglas Bailey wrote:
> Eric Schaeffer <orson...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > Schaeffer's IF LUCY FELL is a breathtaking meditation on the desperate
> > state of contemporary relationships....Schaeffer has created one of
> > the few modern day masterpieces.
> "There is an affectation that I find particularly annoying, and that is
> when people choose to perform at a level below their natural
> intelligence....It's not often you find this voluntary dimwittedness in
> a movie, but _If Lucy Fell_ offers a depressing example..."
> -- Roger Ebert
<snip of many moving tributes to Schaeffer's talents>
I loved the beginning of Shawn Levy's _Oregonian_ review of "Never Again":
There's as little point in declaring Eric Schaeffer the cinema's
least-gifted writer-director as there is in declaring Grace Kelly classy,
oatmeal rib-sticking or redwood trees tall: The thing speaks so loudly and
obviously for itself that you take it for granted, like gravity or tap
With "Never Again," Schaeffer has perpetrated five films on humanity: "My
Life's in Turnaround," "If Lucy Fell," "Fall" and "Wirey Spindell." The
last was denied Portland audiences, but it appears to have been much like
the others: Schaeffer, who looks less like a movie star than like a
plasterer or a soda jerk, gets into witlessly contrived and profoundly
unfunny situations as a creative artiste of some sort who just can't keep
gorgeous women out of his life and bed, poor twit, and suffers all sorts of
unconvincing anxieties as a result.
They're films that Woody Allen might have made if he'd been deprived of
oxygen at birth, so ugly, dumb, derivative,
scatological, tone deaf and altogether alienating that you can't believe
anyone would finance, let alone distribute them -- and yet here we are with
> A couple of minutes ago, I posted my yearly Eric Schaeffer troll post.
> Since no one responded, I decided to break all the troll rules and respond
> to my own troll post.
> - Orson "Is it hip to hate Ed Burns Too" Locke
I don't know if it's hip -- it's just good taste. I once read a comment
calling Ed Burns "just like Woody Allen, only Irish and without any talent."
(funny how all these guys get compared to Woody Allen)
>> A couple of minutes ago, I posted my yearly Eric Schaeffer troll post.
>> Since no one responded, I decided to break all the troll rules and respond
>> to my own troll post.
>> - Orson "Is it hip to hate Ed Burns Too" Locke
>I don't know if it's hip -- it's just good taste. I once read a comment
>calling Ed Burns "just like Woody Allen, only Irish and without any talent."
Burns is like Adam Sandler -- all of sudden he's got people in his
movies whom I like to watch. It's annoying.
John "I have a love-hate relationship with Eric Schaeffer's films,
only without the love" Harkness
I have to say that Korine is at least a magnitude worse than
Schaeffer. But still, Schaeffer is several orders worse than the video
guy who shoots those quickie late night spots for the local used car
Todd "And then there's Schumacher" McNeeley
email: mcneeley at enteract dot com
If Eric Schaeffer is so untalented as a few of you seem to think he
is, than how does he continually manage to attract such top notch
talent to his films as:
Sarah Jessica Parker
Amanda De Cadenet
Could it be that:
A) He is a highly respected director of actors
B) He writes terrific scripts
C) He has a body of work that is greatly admired by his peers
or D) All of the above
>If Eric Schaeffer is so untalented as a few of you seem to think he
>is, than how does he continually manage to attract such top notch
>talent to his films as:
>Ben Stiller, >Sarah Jessica Parker
>Elle Macpherson >Jeffrey Tambor
>Jill Clayburgh >Bill Duke
>Sandy Duncan >Michael McKean
>Callie Thorne >Amanda De Cadenet
>Scarlett Johansen >James Rebhorn
So here's a thought. Other than Eric Schaeffer, who is the worst
director who is able to consistently attract B and C list stars to
I'm not enough of a film buff to answer myself, but I'm curious. Any
other el stinko directors with fairly decent doing-it-for-the-paycheck
I'd nominate Joel Schumacher and Michael Bay for this honor ... though
Schumacher probably wins, since he's made more movies.
Starweek Magazine/Metro Toronto
Well, it's certainly none of those. Frankly, that's been a mystery to me,
too. I've always assumed he must know them socially and they feel sorry for
him or something.
Although the guy who said "goat pictures" may have been on to something.
Schaeffer got some "before they were huge stars" by sheer dumb luck. I
don't think you will see Ben Stiller in another Shaeffer "see the super
model is attracted to me" production.
>Schumaker in a landslide because he gets the stars when they are/were
>borderline A talent (Cage in 8MM, Clooney in Batman, Hopkins in Bad
By the time Schumacher got Cage, he'd won an Oscar and starred in The
Rock and Con Air -- this is plainly some definition of "borderline A
talent" with which I'm unfamiliar. Hopkins likewise -- Bad Company
comes after Hopkins Oscar and after Hannibal.
>Please answer me this question...
>If Eric Schaeffer is so untalented as a few of you seem to think he
>is, than how does he continually manage to attract such top notch
>talent to his films as:
He pays them.
Todd "I'd do his bidding for money too" McNeeley
> Please answer me this question...
> If Eric Schaeffer is so untalented as a few of you seem to think he
> is, than how does he continually manage to attract such top notch
> talent to his films as:
> Ben Stiller
Who, a year before he appeared in "If Lucy Fell," appeared in
"Heavyweights," written and directed by Steven "Little Nicky" Brill.
> Sarah Jessica Parker
Star of Kenny Ortega's immortal classic "Hocus Pocus."
> Elle Macpherson
She was in "Batman and Robin"!
> Jeffrey Tambor
He was in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "Doctor Dolittle," "Teaching
Mrs. Tingle," "Muppets from Space," "Big Bully"...I love the guy, but I
wouldn't let him pick *my* scripts.
> Jill Clayburgh
The same Jill Clayburgh who's spent most of the last decade making
abominable cable movies like "Sins of the Mind"?
> Bill Duke
He was in "Exit Wounds," starring Steven Seagal. He also acted in *and*
directed "Sister Act II: Back in the Habit."
> Sandy Duncan
Sandy DUNCAN? In what alternate universe is Sandy Duncan considered "top
notch talent"? The one where Valerie Harper didn't quit?
> Michael McKean
McKean is a rare talent, but he often picks lousy scripts, and I mean
*really* lousy scripts. Like, say, "Casper: A Spirited Beginning."
> Callie Thorne
Stinking up the last couple of seasons of "Homicide: Life on the Street"
does not qualify someone as a top-notch talent.
> Amanda De Cadenet
*snort* You mean John Taylor's ex-wife? Ah, who could forget her
immortal performance as "Hooker # 2" in the classic cop vs. aliens
thriller "Blue Flame"?
> Scarlett Johansen
It's 'Johansson,' and she appeared in "Home Alone 3" the year after she
appeared in "Fall." 'nuff said.
> James Rebhorn
Who was in "The Adventures of Pluto Nash"...
> Could it be that:
> A) He is a highly respected director of actors
> B) He writes terrific scripts
> C) He has a body of work that is greatly admired by his peers
> or D) All of the above
> You decide.
I'll give you this: he's certainly no worse than Ron "Pluto Nash"
It was the saying of Bion, that though the boys throw stones at frogs in
sport, yet the frogs do not die in sport but in earnest. - Plutarch
I didn't mean to insult Cage or Hopkins, I left the A talent classification
up to the reader.
I certainly would consider them A talent at the time their Schumaker movie
That why I declared him the winner by a landslide.
Bay had some A talent but it is so obvious that the actors wanted to make a
I don't know what Cage was thinking when he read 8MM.