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I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Any movie that offers Bonnie Hunt, Sarah Silverman and Amy Sedaris in the supporting cast has to be well worth watching, and comic actor Jeff Garlin takes advantage of the terrific talent he recruited for his 2007 directorial debut, a sad-sack comedy about an overweight man who feels out of step with the world around him. Familiar as Larry David's manager Jeff on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Garlin plays James, a still-struggling, 39-year old Chicago actor who lives with his widowed mother. His self-esteem is so low that he can't meet women, but he's a likable guy and it's the comical way he views his single status that makes his dilemma involving. If the storyline sounds a bit familiar, that's because the film is partially a tribute to the 1955 Ernest Borgnine classic, Marty, about a lonely Bronx butcher living with his meddlesome mother. In fact, Garlin uses Marty as the play which James is desperate to do since he is so empathetic to the character's situation.

Naturally there is a love story of sorts in this new millennium version, and Silverman plays Beth, an off-kilter, sexually voracious ice cream parlor server who takes him on an underwear shopping spree. Their best scene together is in his favorite convenience store where they improvise different characters in different aisles. Hunt plays a lonely elementary school teacher who shares a passion with James for jazz saxophonist Ben Webster. They meet accidentally in a record store and then again at a career day at her school where he hilariously exposes his sexual neuroses in front of a classroom of first-graders, including his best friend Luca's pert daughter Penelope (played by Dakota Fanning's look-alike baby sister Elle). In a wedged-in cameo and looking quite a bit like Jerri Blank, Sedaris plays the school's counselor who speaks to James after his inappropriate monologue. David Pasquesi plays Luca, a retirement home manager, and his scenes with Garlin have an easy rapport that makes their friendship easy to believe. Almost stealing the movie is character actress Mina Kolb, who plays James' pixilated mother with pluck and heart.

There are also unexpected cameos from teen idol Aaron Carter and Gina Gershon (don't ask...but the set-up is funny), as well as sharply played bits by director Paul Mazursky as the snaky director of a candid-camera-type show, "Smear Job"; Tim Kazurinsky as the unsuspecting victim of that show; Roger Bart as the play's ignorant casting director; and Dan Castellaneta as the tough-love convenience store owner. With his rueful bouts of insecurity and self-loathing, Garlin's comic sensibilities resemble those of Albert Brooks, and the casual dialogue at its best reminds me of Modern Romance and Defending Your Life. The one persistent problem I had with the film is pacing as some scenes dragged out longer than necessary. The problem is more evident in the first half when Garlin is trying to establish the right tempo, and the lack of real conflict adds to the sluggishness. Regardless, what he does well is capture that gnawing sense of desperation one feels upon the revelation that life is not what it is supposed to be, that a significant other may be out of reach, and that a steady diet of junk food eaten on a car hood is the only sure thing when it comes to gratification.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Or like the French (and some ugly Americans like me) say, "Qui couper le frommage?"

OK, now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'll admit I enjoyed "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With."

"Cheese" communicates in a very innocent, direct and quirky method, that is entirely endearing. Its difficult not to develop some affection for Jeff Garlin. This movie is essentially a "stream of experience" about Jeff's life as an nice, aimless, affable, funny, fat jewish guy.

Sarah Silverman delivers a performance that could (or will) be right out of "The Sarah Silverman Program." Bonnie Hunt is wonderful as the school teacher, and Dan Castellaneta is great as the store owner.

I'm going to watch it again to make sure I don't miss any of the great humor, like when the homeless guy refuses to wear the pirate costume saying, "I'm a homeless guy. All I have left is my dignity."

This would have been five stars, but as the movie begins to build toward what I thought might be the most important scenes, it suddenly ends. Perhaps demonstrating my interest in the film, I felt ripped-off, like someone had just deleted a huge chunk somewhere in the second half of the DVD. The last scene, which was supposed to be very meaningful, was probably set up by the missing material, so it just seemed to appear out of nowhere.

Its as if the producer of the movie, like Jeff Garlin's character, full of talented self-doubt, got off to a great start but suddenly loses his nerve just before closing the deal with the audience.

Still, you can't discount the good intentions and honesty of this little film. Basically, Jeff is someone I'd like to meet, I think he'd be a lot of fun.

Oh well. I'd be inclined to try a Jeff Garlin production again, hoping for some of the same quirky honesty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I am always amazed at how well good dialogue can carry an otherwise familiar theme in a film. 'I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With' is just such a movie. The film is about an overweight man who wants to find his soul mate. He comes across several quirky characters and it is his encounters and the witty dialogue that keep this film rolling along. It's an amusing and sweet tale, but it does seem to end rather abruptly and may not fully satisfy every viewer. I kind of liked it for being different.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I too have to agree with the reviewer who points out how cute Sarah Silverman is (admittedly a strong point that lead me to get the movie) - - in addition, how similar Jeff Garlin looks to George Wendt (not a factor in renting the movie... However, his acting in CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM was.) Ergo... I got the film...

Although not well directed, the movie does have that Larry David/CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM style of quirky observational humor... and the film has a charm... All in all, a nice film to watch one time, though not sure I'd want to see it over and over - - My guess is that had Garlin stuck to writing and acting and the script and cast were virtually the same, but a Christopher Guest or Woody Allenesque director were pulled in, it really would have worked...

As for the story, its about an aspiring actor/compulsive overeater who at age 39 still live with his mother...
His life is falling apart, until he meets Beth (Silverman's character)... a cheerfully yet somewhat mentally ill/sexually uninhibited chubby chaser who work's at her sister's ice cream parlor. The film unfolds at its own pace, but is held together by Garlin, Silverman and company... (Most interestingly, Garlin pretty much plays a character similar to the one in CURB, and Silverman is definitely herself, so fans of both will enjoy, though sometimes its a bit awkward.)

In conclusion... quite a few laugh out loud scenes, but don't expect to be blown away...

Includes a cameo by Amy Sedaris as well as many other recognizable faces.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2010
An indie film that feels more like Sienfeld the movie. The main character Jeff Garlin plays an overweight comic who's life is on a slippery slope down. The movie takes place in Chicago, but feels more like its cameo city. There are a few laugh out loud moments from quirky characters, but no one really sticks around from beginning to end. Like a day in the life of a comic, he gets dumped, meets a slew of crazy characters, gets fired, and so on. Not much really to say about the movie, there's no real plot. This is more like a vehicle for Jeff Garlin to get more work, because he shows off accents, improv and other things (but not tap dancing).

This is supposedly a finding romance comedy and he never really finds romance so much as it finds him. It never felt like he was actually looking for love, instead they were just more quirky characters that made brief appearances or cameos.

Most of the time its just 2 people talking with no real action. Either talking and walking or just flat out talking. Good thing they take a walk through so many city streets. The movie never really feels like Chicago. There is only 1 scene from a famous location and when they play up Chicago so much, it would have been nice to see more of it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2008
Like another reviewer noted, this is a modest effort, a small but thoughtful and satisfying movie, I wish there were more like it. It's clearly a labor of love for all involved and Jeff Garlin has an ingratiating screen presence, sympathetic without being totally pathetic. This movie makes some smart observations and manages some genuinely funny laugh out loud moments. It's perfect for a night at home.
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on December 31, 2010
***1/2

Sort of a fictionalized version of Kevin James or Drew Carey, James Aaron (played by Jeff Garlin of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" fame, who also wrote, produced and directed the film) is a portly, wisecracking actor/comedian who lives with his mother in Chicago, is a member of The Second City comedy troupe (probably the one bright spot in his life), and is seemingly destined never to meet the girl of his dreams - mainly due to his lifelong battle with food and weight (like many of his fellow human beings, he always seems to be on the verge of starting a brand-new diet, then finding reasons to renege on it). James struggles to find decent roles for a man of his girth, and he feels he'd be perfect for the remake of "Marty" that a casting-director friend of his is currently at work on. On a personal level, all James really wants is to find a woman who will be able to look beyond his physical appearance and to see him for the good guy that he is - and, of course, to eat cheese with him (though he admits ice cream would be even better). In an effort to attain that goal, James hooks up with several women throughout the course of the film, including comedienne Sarah Silverman, who plays one of those flighty, free-thinking, free-spirited young women who seem to exist only in independent comedies.

Indeed, "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With" has virtually all the hallmarks of the traditional indie comedy: minimal plotting; an emotionally detached, slightly cynical protagonist who makes wry observations on the world around him; a bevy of eccentric, offbeat secondary characters; countless "in" movie references; a droll tone. As such, the movie doesn't always seem as innovative and fresh as it might have had it arrived at the vanguard of this now over-tapped genre instead of the after-guard. That being said, there's much that is likable in the film, starting with the performances, which are all spot-on and amusing, and the writing, which is frequently insightful, offbeat and clever. James, with his body issues and inability to connect with that one special someone in his life, is an effective everyman character whom the audience can certainly relate to, and Garlin's low-keyed, understated approach to the role makes the character all the more appealing.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2008
For his directorial debut Jeff Garlin tells an all too familiar story. The tale is of the shy and sensitive loner who is hopeless in his search for love. In Jeff's case the guy is a fat guy who still lives with his mom. Garlin is doing what many other writer/directors have done before which is writing themselves a sympathetic character and then casting a hot actress to fall for them and adore them. In the film Jeff has a strange hobby of going to the convenience store late at night and stocking up on his favorite junk foods. He lays on the hood of his car wishfully looking up at the stars as he stuffs his face with the fattening foods. He works for a hidden camera show that plays cruel jokes on it's unsuspecting marks. His heart isn't in it so one day he quits. In his spare time he performs with the legendary Second City in Chicago. (There are some fun cameos from Second City alums.) He enrolls in a support group for over eaters but he ends up walking out of his first meeting and heads to a nearby ice cream shop. Behind the counter is the beautiful Beth (Sarah Silverman). As a conversation starter she asks him sexually risque questions that catches him off guard. He reads her forwardness as interest on her part. The two start hanging out together after Beth gets off work. On their first date they go for a walk in the park. After their walk they sit on some steps and talk about how lonely they are. There is a couple having a picnic who are feeding cheese to each other. Seeing this Beth tells Jeff that she wants someone to eat cheese with. After this touching moment she invites him to go underwear shopping with her. Silverman is very sexy and funny but her acting isn't as good as her stand up. This is her first romantic lead in a film as opposed to playing the sassy best friend in so many other movies. She makes the most of the opportunity and captures everything you could see yourself wanting in a woman like this. The romance between the two of them doesn't unfold as you would expect and it's disappointing to watch how the Silverman character handles things. I thought this part of the film was too underdeveloped and that things ended abruptly. You don't much care for the Silverman character by the end either. That isn't her fault though it's Garlin's for not coming up with a better way to end things between Jeff and Beth. Perhaps he chose to go that route so that you would feel more sympathy for his character. Bonnie Hunt gets a lot of laughs as a kindergarten teacher who Garlin meets shortly after ending things with Beth. Garlin is an extremely likable and funny guy and this film has some clever writing on his part. There are some fun performances but just as the premise is familiar the film turns into another wistful story about a romance that didn't pan out.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2009
The title and the synopsis on the DVD cover may make "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With" sound like another lame rom-com, but it's far better than that. Having seen some episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm", and finding Jeff Garlin's character to be much more interesting than that of Larry David, I was curious enough to look further.

Quite often, said curiosity leads me to some real turkeys, but I'm pleased to say that isn't the case here. Though it gets off to a meandering slow start at first (which Garlin's character James explains is "kind of like his life"); it's got a lot of heart, and in ways that stand up to and even improve with repeat viewing. That's all the more fortunate because it's rare.

Briefly, James is an overweight and out-of-work 39 year-old actor who lives with Mom as he sort of moseys his way thru life. The "plot" does not involve high drama; rather, it is a character study, or series of character studies, as James interacts with various people - store clerks, best friend, bosses, and potential love interests among them. OK; I know that doesn't sound very compelling, but nevertheless there is a great deal of humor and grace and wit in these interactions. It is NOT the usual eye-rolling, cliched stuff. Sarah Silverman is perfect as something of a she-devil soda-jerk. Bonnie Hunt as a school teacher and reputed "chubby chaser" is hilarious. Also, I very much enjoyed Amy Sedaris' brief appearance as the somewhat goofy counselor.

Additionally, I don't understand others' criticism of the way the movie ended, or those who labeled the film "depressing". I thought the ending was uplifting and most appropriate; a gentle coup de grace for Jeff Garlin's first effort. I hope there will be more.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Fans of Jeff Garlin will be curious to see how well he stands without comic support from Larry David and Susie Essman his best friend and wife respectively from the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm". The results are decidedly mixed.
While taking a ...(read more)much sweeter tone than "Curb", it tries to explore similar themes of failure of people to relate to each other in anything but superficial or selfish terms.
Garlin who wrote, directed, and co-produced this film could have benefited from rewriting many scense to make them seem more natural. Another round of edits could improve the pacing and flow of the movie, giving it a consistent rhythm.
While relying on many actors from "Curb" (Jeff's wife Marla Garlin is casting director for both) the film is unevenly cast .
Most the dialog is forced and unnatural. The actors appear to be reciting lines that have been memorized rather than internalized.
What a difference from the spontaneity of "Curb" where much of the dialogue has been improvised. The exception is when Sara Silverman appears as a freaky soda-jerk. Ms. Silverman brings much needed attitude and freshness to the movie.
In fact the only time the movie truly comes to life is in the convenience store scene in which Jeff and Sarah Silverman improvise dialogue between ordinary people who have a chance encounter in the ailses of the store.
So all in all, you''ll find "Cheese" rather bland than nutty, rather mild than strong.
This cheese could have used some aging.
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