Permanent Midnight

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Permanent Midnight ★½ 1998 (R)

Stiller stars as TV writer Jerry Stahl in this film version of his 1995 autobiography, which follows his plunge from a guy who has it all to a loser junkie who's as unlikable as this movie itself. At its real-life peak, Stahl's heroine habit reached $6,000 a week. There are some great flashes of dark humor—Jerry is obsessed with exercising and eating right even while pumping himself full of drugs—and some truly horrific sequences (at one low point, Stahl both scores and shoots up with his baby daughter by his side). The problem is that we don't care. Stiller's comic timing makes most of the bleak jokes work, and it's the only thing that makes the movie bearable; however, his brooding performance (possibly due to writer/director Veloz) lacks any charisma. Watch for Stahl himself as a pessimistic doctor at a methadone clinic. 85m/C VHS, DVD . Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Hurley, Maria Bello, Owen Wilson, Lourdes Benedicto, Peter Greene, Cheryl Ladd, Fred Willard, Charles Fleischer, Janeane Garofalo, Jerry Stahl; D: David Veloz; W: David Veloz; C: Robert Yeoman; M: Daniel Licht.