Michael Douglas Continues His Geriatric Resurgence…
Director: ROB REINER/2014
Once Rob Reiner had us laughing as Spinal Tap was turning up their amps to 11. He had us cheering when Tom Cruise stood up to Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) when he was told that “he couldn’t handle the truth”. He redefined the romantic comedy with When Harry Met Sally, with one line: “I’ll have what she’s having”. But many years past those great films, Reiner, who is reuniting with his The American President actor, Michael Douglas, is now giving us geriatric comedy-dramas.
Douglas who was last seen in a geriatric comedy, last year’s Last Vegas, is back as Oren Little, an aging realtor who has lost his long-time wife to cancer, and who is simply trying to sell their family home by any means necessary. Since her death, Oren has become quite the cranky fellow showing zero compassion for anyone. Even his son, a former druggie, can’t get any support despite having cleaned up his life. When his son, who is on his way to jail for doing the right thing ironically, drops off his 10 year old daughter to stay with Douglas, the grandfather she has never met, Douglas’ Oren Little is all too happy to pawn her off on next door neighbor Leah (Diane Keaton). Leah is also an aging widow trying to move forward. And like Last Vegas, as the love interest, she is also an aspiring lounge singer much like Mary Steenbergen was.
This movie has some good moments as writer Mark Andrus (As Good as it Gets) combines well placed jokes in the midst of some of the heavier scenes. Michael Douglas plays the cantankerous old fart very well. He and Keaton even have good chemistry. Some of the older crowd at the screening in between laughter kept commenting aloud how funny this film was. And while it is a decent, heartwarming film, its only because of its leads, the past pedigree of its director, and the basic formula it is following.
In the hands of anyone else, this film is nothing more than a mediocre comedy at best. And while it comes off better than it should, in the end there is nothing really special about this story and it is forgettable immediately after leaving the theater. None of the jokes, or the story arc really make any impact at all. His slow warming to his granddaughter is a foregone conclusion, but takes quite a while to begin to develop.
The one winner in all of this will be Michael Douglas who is finding a new groove later in life. Once the hip sex symbol of films like Romancing the Stone, Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct and the like, he is now just the hipster making jokes about tearing his ACL during sex.
Rob Reiner has some decent moments acting, coming off his role in last year’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Also, timed just as Jersey Boys is in the theaters, you’ll see an appearance by Frankie Valli. This film is built purely for the older crowd given its leads, and the various reoccurring jokes involving donuts, mistaking rich hispanic ball players for the gardner, 1950’s music, and sex injuries. It also has a heart, but takes quite a while in getting its characters to the place where their conscience kicks in and they begin to learn the lessons the script obviously has for them to learn.
And while I’m pretty down on this formulaic drivel from a director who has given us much better over the years, I must say that it can still be an enjoyable night out at the movies if you are just looking to turn your brain off and be entertained by a phoned in performance from the two leads.