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R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 06/18/1998,

Dream for an Insomniac

The clumsiness of Tiffanie DeBartolo's Dream for an Insomniac doesn't end with the title. A romantic comedy about bright, funny, confused young people in San Francisco, it fails to be bright or funny itself, only confused.

Frankie (a vivacious Ione Skye) is an aspiring actress who works for her Uncle Joe (Seymour Cassel with a wavering Italian accent) in the Café Blue Eyes, which is saturated with the late crooner's music. She stopped sleeping at the age of six, when her parents were killed in an accident. Now she's an insomniac, partly because she believes that "if you only dream when you are asleep, you have nothing when you wake up," partly because, as she boasts, "I stay up all night thinking of clever things to say."

Her repertoire, it turns out, consists of highbrow quotes from the likes of Kierkegaard and Charles Bukowski and pop-cultural references to the Brady Bunch and Barbara Walters. She meets her match in David (MacKenzie Astin, looking like an abandoned Baldwin brother), who parries her patter with lines like "Not everyone can quote Aristotle off the top of their head!" and "Kurt Cobain -- ouch!" To underscore their attraction, not to mention the film's gimmicky superficiality, the film stock changes from black and white to color when they first meet.

David does have a girlfriend, but since she's a law student named Molly, she provides little competition. The ensemble cast, though awkwardly directed, does: Jennifer Aniston, Michael Landes, and Robert Kelker-Kelly brighten their drab material. "There are too many mediocre things in life; love shouldn't be one of them," announces Frankie. Neither should films about love.

-- Peter Keough