EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|EXTRA MAN, THE (director/writer: /; screenwriter: Jonathan Ames/based on the novel by Mr. Ames; cinematographer: Terry Stacey; editor: ; music: Klaus Badelt; cast: (Louis Ives), (Henry Harrison), (Mary), (Gershon), John Pankow (George), Celia Weston (Meredith Lagerfeld), Patti D’Arbanville (Katherine Hart), Lynn Cohen (Lois Huber), (Vivian), (Aresh), Jason Butler Harner (Otto Bellman), Alicia Goranson (Sandra), Alex Burns (Brad); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Anthony Bregman/Stephanie Davis; Magnolia; 2010)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Co-director and co-writer, the husband-and-wife team and ("The Nanny Diaries"/""American
Splendor"), base their wacky comedy on an acclaimed 1998 book by
Jonathan Ames, who is also a co-writer.
The polite, soft-spoken,
bland young English teacher, Louis
gets fired from an elite Princeton,
New Jersey prep school for
modeling a bra while waiting to meet the head mistress. He therefore comes to Manhattan to find
himself. Answering an ad in a newspaper, he becomes the roommate of the eloquent asexual Henry Harrison (), an eccentric elderly struggling
playwright living on a marginal income as a part-time college English
teacher. The apartment is decorated with Christmas balls, placed in a
bowl in the living room. Henry, who gladly admits his sexual views are
“to the right of the Pope,” won't allow guest overnight in his
apartment. The spirited classy hustler shows the out-of-towner how to
sneak into the opera and how to get invited to fancy dinner parties and
cultural events as an escort (here called an extra man) to rich old
widows--with the perks being free meals and other possible
considerations (though the subject of sexual favors never comes up).
The quirky comedy has a few
wildly insane moments, that give the pic a needed jolt.
Louis, obsessed with the
classic American literature of the 1920s, like F. Scott Fitzgerald,
scores a bottom-wrung job, in sales, on a small environmental magazine,
where the timid lad fails to win the heart of his manipulative
attractive cause-chasing, vegan, green lifestyle young co-worker () and learns the hard way that he really
doesn't want to be a cross-dresser after a few failed experiments with
pros. Mentored by Henry, the protégé
is introduced as an extra man
and because of his good manners becomes a hit with the manipulative
wealthy old widows.
Other characters pop up such as John C. Reilly as a high-voiced, unkempt bearded, subway mechanic hermit neighbor (whose forced kooky role doesn't fit into the pic); Jason Butler Harner plays Henry's former roommate who was kicked out by the uptight Henry; Celia Weston as the plump female escort and rival of Henry's; and Lynn Cohen and
REVIEWED ON 12/20/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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