The Appointments of Dennis Jennings

appointments of dennis

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.  You may not think there’s anything worth knowing about the director of Red 2, which opens this Friday. But Dean Parisot, who is best known for helming Galaxy Quest, is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker. He got his start by directing two excellent, slightly surreal shorts in the 1980s, the second of which, The Appointments of Dennis Jennings, won the Oscar in 1989 for Best Live Action Short. (That was a great year for short winners, by the way, as it saw Pixar’s John Lasseter receive his first with Tin Toy and documentarian Bill Guttentag win his first with You Don’t Have to Die.) Parisot shares his honor with comedian Steven Wright, who co-wrote the witty little movie with Mike Armstrong. The acceptance speech was a highlight of the year’s ceremony, in part because it was so brief and also because of Wright’s amusing comment that “we’re really glad that we cut out the other sixty minutes.” Wright also stars in the 30-minute film as the title character, an obsessive, paranoid and shy man who begins seeing a disinterested shrink played by Rowan Atkinson. A lot of what Dennis tells the doctor in his sessions is straight out of Wright’s stand-up, his shtick involving dry ironic wordplay and absurd philosophical questions. Atkinson’s character is also seeing Dennis’s  girlfriend, who is played by Laurie Metcalf, leading to a deadly climax. The […]

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