Channel 4: Sunday 13 September, 1.45am
The misadventures of Sam Rockwell, a sex-obsessed med-school drop out holding down two jobs to care for his mother Anjelica Huston, in care with Alzheimer’s. The day job is re-enacting the backbone of colonial America – he’s a glorified tour guide at a Williamsburg theme park. At night, he chokes on steaks in restaurants to sponge off the wealthy patrons who ‘save’ him.
A bracingly funny adaptation of a wild cult novel by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk. What saves it from terminal sleaze and salaciousness is its consistency of tone, precariously but brilliantly balanced between cynicism and sympathy. All the cast is terrific, down to the most minor dotty residents in the Cuckoo’s Nest care home. The scruffy and strangely endearing Rockwell almost managed to salvage something from the unforgivably bland Better Living Through Chemistry.
Here he manages to make his difficult, despairing and deplorable character not demeaning but somehow sweet. Credit is due the director, actor Clark Gregg (he’s the snotty boss at the theme park), not just for adapting Palahniuk’s crazy book in the first place but also for realizing that probably only Rockwell could have pulled off this trick. It’s dark, lusty stuff yet oddly lighthearted.