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Serial

Starring Martin Mull, Sally Kellerman, Bill Macy, Peter Bonerz. Directed by Bill Persky. According to this movie, a whole chunk of northern California is obsessed with: wife-switching, vegetarianism, religious cults, husband-switching, psychotherapy, motorcycles, homosexuality, "getting into your own space," and obsession itself.

It's not a pretty picture. In fact, it's a very offensive picture at times. Yet there are germs of truth buried here -- tragically funny truth. Every now and then the satire of "Serial" hits right on the mark, and the results are ruefully riotous to behold.

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Such moments occur when a 10-year-old boy is sent to a psychologist who wants to "get him in touch with his childhood." Or when we see a middle-age man wolfing down a fast-food hamburger so his flower-child girlfriend won't catch him eating meat. Or when we hear a guru conclude a wedding ceremony by telling the happy couple, "I now pronounce you pair-bonded, as long as you both shall find this relationship mutually nourishing."

There are a lot of things in the "me generation" -- particularly that obnoxious jargon -- that need such satirizing. And "Serial" does the job with a vengeance.Unfortunately, though, it has no other stock in trade. Except for a few platitudes in favor of the old-fashioned bourgeoisie, near the end, the movie has little personality of its own. It's a negatively defined film -- a diatribe againstm everything, not form anything. That's why it gets so tiring after the first five minutes or so. I smiled here and there, but I felt singularly unrefreshed at the end.


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