A movie about just how funny gambling, drinking and drug addiction – along with your young niece taking up prostitution – can be, Finding Amanda may have even more difficulty dredging up laughs about any of that, than locating the title character in question. And in a rare move for that normally voyeuristic, contrastingly publicity-shy Hollywood crowd, Finding Amanda turns the camera on itself, as filmmaker Peter Tolan (Rescue Me, Analyze This) takes a semi-autobiographical lurid and oddly light peek at all those unhealthy local habits and concurrent rehab redemptions one always hears far too much about already in the tabloids.
Matthew Broderick is Taylor Peters in Finding Amanda, an LA television writer for a sitcom sinking in the ratings, and fast. Taylor’s also not dealing with a whole menu of addictions, and he’s currently seeing a shrink to overcome his most formidable challenge, compulsive gambling.
When Taylor’s frustrated spouse (Maura Tierney) discovers that he’s sneaking off to the racetrack between therapy sessions, she dumps him. And in a bid to salvage his marriage, Taylor makes her a pledge to find their errant twenty year old niece Amanda (Brittany Snow) – who’s gone off to Vegas to ply her wares as a hotel hooker, and may have a serious drug problem herself – and drag her back to do time at one of those plush Malibu rehab resorts.
Needless to say, when Taylor arrives in Vegas, he can’t resist the temptations of all those casinos within far too easy reach. And he’s soon racking up a gambling tab he can’t begin to make good on, while bubbly Amanda seems inexplicably dazzled by the hooker life, minus some rough customer patches now and then. And she’s also got her uncle and his assorted vices figured out in no time, as to pot junkies calling the kettle black.
So whether it’s being hooked on pot or just plain hooking, Finding Amanda, despite, well, its potpourri of addictions, is just not too funny, nor very probing when it comes to character psychology or motivations. Not to mention that Finding Taylor, a far more potentially intriguing tale, along with a darker tone for this lightweight fare, might have been just the cure.