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Film / Duke of Groove

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Rich gets his groove on.

Duke of Groove is a 1996 short film (32 minutes) directed by Griffin Dunne.

Rich Cooper is a boy in his late teens in Los Angeles, circa 1969-70. One night his mother Rebecka asks him out of nowhere to accompany her to a party, because his father is out that night and she doesn't want to go alone. When she tells Rich that her friend said none other than Janis Joplin is supposed to stop by the party after a gig, Rich eagerly agrees. A wild evening ensuses—but there's a surprise at the end.

The surprisingly loaded All-Star Cast includes a pre-stardom Tobey Maguire as Rich, Kate Capshaw as Rebecka, Uma Thurman as a gorgeous hippie girl named Maya, and Kiefer Sutherland as Hugo, a record producer who's hosting the party.



  • Bittersweet Ending: A very drunk Rebecka finally tells Rich the truth: she and his father are getting divorced and the reason she dragged him to a party that night was so his father could come by and clear his stuff out of the house. Still, mother and son have formed a bond by the end of the evening.
  • The Cameo: Besides all the other stars in this short, Elliott Gould appears briefly as a guest at the party.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Something like 12 hours from the evening invitation to the party to the following morning.
  • Historical Domain Character: Yep, Janis Joplin does show up at the party. Rich sees Janis deep in conversation with Rebecka, and is horrified when he asks and his mom said she didn't even know that was Joplin. At the end, we see that somehow Janis went home with Rich and his mom and is smoking on their balcony.
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  • Lady Drunk: Rebecka already has a wine glass in her hand in the opening scene where she's trying to talk Rich into going to the party. She gets drunker (and possibly stoned) over the course of the evening. By the time they get to the beach and she finally spills the beans about the divorce, she's stumbling around in the surf, getting soaked, and stripping down to underwear and slip.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Maya, who demands Rich's necklace (actually his mother's), kisses him, gets him to smoke something more potent than cigarettes, then does a swan dive off a balcony just for kicks.
  • Nice Guy: Discussed Trope, as Rich believes he can't attract girls because he's too nice to them, and All Girls Want Bad Boys.
  • Parents as People: Rich learns a lot about his mother's pain and her inner life, when she gets drunk as hell before confessing to him that she and his father are divorcing.
  • Orbital Shot: Combined with Facecam to show the effect of whatever Rich smoked at the party getting to him, as he drunkenly dances while the camera spins around him.
  • Round Hippie Shades: Janis Joplin, who was almost as associated with the tinted hippie glasses as John Lennon was, wears them to the party.