The 100 Mile Rule

The 100 Mile Rule begins as a bittersweet satirical take on the abject patheticness of the average, horny, male AUPPIE (Aging Urban Professional) as we are introduced to a group of quietly desperate Detroit salesmen who have journeyed to Long Beach for a tedious sales conference in the shadow of the Queen Mary. One of them would do anything to cheat on his wife but finds no takers; even the hookers won't have him. The other wants only to be faithful to his wife, but he finds his will buckling when a seductive blond waitress improbably begins throwing herself at him.

We're drawn into the plight of both men, and we're just as surprised as they are when the picture takes a sharp turn into dark farce, with blackmail and dead bodies and lots of shouting and cutesy suspense music as people skulk up and down the hotel halls. If the picture doesn't absolutely cohere, it also never loses your attention or your sympathy for its flailing heroes as their midlife crises escalate into wondering if they can make it through the night alive. There's a bonus thrill for X-Files fans, as two of the series' finest recurring villains share an encounter that's as hilariously awful as anything Chris Carter ever dreamed up.

After Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, et al., perhaps you've come to think a law should be enacted prohibiting yet another cinematic cautionary tale about guys who stray outside the bounds of marital propriety and live to regret it. Fair enough, but for The 100 Mile Rule, I think we can make an exception. (Lido Theater, April 4, 3 p.m.)

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