American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
As “Queens Logic” begins, the characters are gathering in the New York borough of Queens for a bachelor party and a wedding, and over the next few days these events will be the occasion for various moments of truth and self-revelation, discovery and disappointment.
Like reunion movies such as “Return of the Secaucus Seven” and “The Big Chill,” the plot gives the characters, who are now mostly in their 30s, an opportunity for a midlife evaluation of how things are going and how they are likely to go.
We share their curiosity, but for at least the first 30 minutes of the movie we’re curious about something else, as well: Who are these people, and what do they mean to one another? The screenplay by Tony Spiridakis introduces a large gallery of characters in no apparent order and then moves casually among their stories. Gradually we begin to know who the characters are and - vaguely, anyway - how they are related. And then, almost insidiously, they grow more and more familiar, until by the end of the film we’re beginning to really care what happens to them.
There’s Al, the ringleader, played by Joe Mantegna, who is seen in a title sequence climbing a rope up the vast bridge that connects Queens with Manhattan. He has always been the madcap comedian, the party animal. He sells fish for a living, but his wife complains he’s not a fishmonger, he’s a lounge act. Al’s partner is Eliot (John Malkovich), who is gay but does not act on that fact, preferring a life of celibate bachelorhood. Al’s wife is Carla (Linda Fiorentino), feisty, proud, ready to move out if Al stays out all night again.