Rated R for language and some sexual content.
Directed by: Brian Koppelman, David Levien
Written by: Brian Koppelman
Staring: Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary-Louise Parker, Jenna Fischer, Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots
Despite seeing this weeks ago I did not feel compelled to write a review. I guess its because the movie left me feeling nothing, I felt nothing for the characters. I know that may sound harsh, but it is so true. The film was all around just bland and too dark. I like dark comedies but this was just too much for my tastes. The film follows Ben Kalmen on his downward spiral both personally and professionally.
I like Michael Douglas, especially his work in Falling Down, Wall Street, Wonder Boys and Fatal Attraction. Douglas plays Ben Kalmen a disgraced car magnate who is obsessed with self gratification and is a very good talker. We are introduced to his character after he has lost his dealerships and is in the midst of attempting a comeback with the help of his wealthy girlfriend played by Mary-Louise Parker. With her help he hopes to launch a new dealership and rebuild his name. Unfortunately his talking and his actions have a habit of getting him into trouble. You will have to see the movie to see how he messes things up even more and continues to dig himself into a deeper hole while on a visit with his girlfriends daughter to his alma mater.
While visiting campus he connects with Jesse Eisenberg’s character and takes him under his wing showing him the ways of the world. It was a shame that this portion of the plot did not develop as much as it could have. I would have loved to have seen more of their exploits. On a side note I love Eisenberg and would have loved to have seen more of his character on screen. I did like his characters progression and the relationship that his character has with Douglas’ character.
Ben then visits his favorite restaurant and friend from college played by none other Danny DeVito. DeVito and Douglas were great on screen together in the ‘Romancing the Stone’ films and their on screen chemistry is still present today. Each scene that they are together in is a good one and you can truly see their real life friendship.
Susan Sarandon stars as his ex-wife and Jenna Fischer stars as his daughter. I liked Fischer and the relationship she had with her father but I felt Sarandon fell flat compared to her ability. The roles were reversed as father and daughter in terms of maturity and responsibility. Fischer’s character seemed to have taken on the parent figure and was helping her father financially.
This review is seeming as disjointed as the film to me and that is because of the pacing of the film which to me was very disjointed and off. I felt the flow of the film was horrible, it jumped around from one place to another. I wonder if this was intentional to show how messed up Ben’s life was. Regardless it left me feeling uneasy. The film was painful to watch. I felt as though I had fallen out of a tree and was hitting every branch on the way down. When I left the theater I was emotionally drained. When you think your life is bad this may be a good film to see to show you that things could get worse. I really did not like that this film was self destructive and that Douglas’s character never did anything to try to stop his life from falling to pieces. The characters and the plot aspects concerning Eisenberg and DeVito make this movie bearable.