This dark comedy is a clever homage to classic generation gap comedies such as The Graduate (1967), The Last Picture Show (1971) and The Big Chill (1983), filtered through an ironic Generation X lens. Tom Thompson (David Schwimmer) is unemployed and aimless, hovering between childhood and adult responsibilities. A year out of college, Tom can't land a decent job -- he still lives with his mother in Brooklyn. He receives a call from Ruth Abernathy (Barbara Hershey), who informs Tom that her son Bill, Tom's best friend in high school, has killed himself. She wants Tom to deliver the eulogy and serve as a pallbearer, and flustered, Tom agrees, though he has no recollection of Bill. After delivering a lackluster eulogy, Tom meets the grieving Ruth and begins an impulsive affair with her. He also encounters Julie DeMarco (Gwyneth Paltrow), a beautiful classmate for whom he's long carried a torch. Although Julie at first mistakes Tom for someone else, they begin dating, while he keeps his relationship with Ruth a secret. First-time writer-director Matt Reeves work-shopped the script for The Pallbearer with writing partner Jason Katims at the Sundance Institute. Reeves went on to create the TV series Felicity.