Thursday, September 16, 2010

Solitary Man: Grade D


Solitary Man (2009)

Michael Douglas , Susan Sarandon, Danny Devito, Mary Louise Parker, Jenna Fischer; Writer and co-director Brian Koppleman.

Douglas is a former car dealer in New York who was apparently once super successful and wealthy from a chain of dealerships (this is all told to us as backstory) but he committed some unspecified fraud and spent everything he had staying out of jail. Now he is near destitute and tries to get a new start, but alas, he suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder that makes him obnoxious. He sleeps with women and girls of any (legal) age, although it is not credible that an 18 year old college student would agree to sleep with a 70 year old geezer, especially if he is her mother’s current boyfriend. Everyone rejects him on general sleazeball principles, even the bank, and he can’t get a restart. DeVito, an old college pal, gives him advice he ignores. He is irresponsible to his grandkids, and an all around, immature jerk. Supposedly we watch him degenerate into self-destruction but in fact, he is just plain unlikeable, and has a police record. He doesn’t do drugs or drink, gamble, or contemplate suicide. He’s just an ordinary baboon and it is difficult to feel sorry for him or to even be interested in him. At the end, he conveniently tells his ex-wife (Sarandon), that he is afraid to die and that is why he is a jerk. Right. That explains everything.

Granted, Douglas is a powerful screen presence, and Sarandon does more acting with one eyebrow than a dozen other people, but that’s not enough to redeem this dead weight of a movie. Directing is significantly terrible, with good actors just woodenly announcing their lines. Everything about the film is bland and familiar and uninteresting. The script is so incredibly boring, it stands as an example of what happens when a writer-director has too much control with no pushback. A lot of talent is wasted in this project.

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