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The Real Howard Spitz Review

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Harold Spitz, failed detective novelist, hits on the idea that children's fiction is the way to earn his fortune. The one hitch being that he hates kids...

★★★★★

Transferring one's talents from small screen to big is never a certain route to success, but here Grammer steals the show as Howard Spitz, failed detective novelist, who finds his true vocation.

As Spitz attempts to expedite himself from debt, his agent Lou (Joseph Rutten) advises him to re-evaluate his career. Dishevelled and disillusioned, Spitz finds himself at a book signing for a top children's author. Noting that his works retail for big money and require a mere hour's work, Spitz turns to the local children's library for inspiration.

There he meets Sam (Tessier), a precocious pre-teen who questions Spitz's motivation and points him in the right direction. With his first draft of a cow detective book, Crafty Cow, dismissed by Sam, Spitz takes her advice and goes on to make his fortune when his revised book receives a generous publishing deal. The only trouble is Spitz hates children. So he hires an actor (Patrick McKenna) to double for him at personal appearances, a scheme which backfires when the latter turns out to be the world's worst thespian.

Director Vadim Jean (Clockwork Mice) has harnessed the considerable talents of a major TV star and sunk the ghost of Grammer's previous big screen outing, the abysmal Down Periscope, as the star dominates the screen with a masterful blend of self-referential humour and Frasier-style sarcasm - despite having to spend much of the film dressed as his bovine protagonist.

The script often threatens to plunge into family film saccharine, but is saved by Jean's assured direction, a performance well beyond her years from Tessier and an often hysterically funny turn from McKenna as moronic actor. A worthy small scale alternative to summer heavyweights.

Kelsey Grammar dominates the screen with a masterful blend of self-referential humour and Frasier-style sarcasm - despite having to spend much of the film dressed as his bovine protagonist