Walking out of a bad movie…we’ve all wanted to do it, and some of us probably have done it on occasion. I myself abandoned the movie “O” with about 10-15 minutes to go, though I should have left earlier. Usually, though, if I’ve paid for a movie, I see it through til the end.
But then The Extra Man came along. I didn’t see it in the theater, but I did pay to watch it On-Demand. Before I delve into my experience, please watch this Siskel & Ebert review for the 1989 movie She’s Out of Control, but feel free to skip forward to about the 2:15 mark to get to the part I want you to hear.
Now…I’m not here to say that The Extra Man isn’t better than She’s Out of Control. I mean, it HAS to be…right? But what I am here to say is that at the halfway point of this movie, I realized I had absolutely no desire to continue watching even another frame of it. The only reason I was trying to muscle through it was because I had paid for it, but eventually even that wasn’t reason enough to continue. So, I turned it off and did something else. Thus, I’m not writing a regular review of it because that probably wouldn’t be fair to the movie. Who knows, maybe it suddenly got really good in the second half. Maybe it all started to make sense and stumbled upon some funny dialogue. Maybe…but I don’t plan on finding out.
So why was it so intolerable?
Well, I’m not sure I can easily point out specific reasons…but I’ll try.
The plot is as follows: Louis (Paul Dano) is a young teacher at Princeton who is let go after he’s caught trying on another teacher’s bra. Yes, Louis likes to dress up in womens clothing. After this setback, Louis moves to Manhattan and rents a room from an eccentric professor/writer, Henry (Kevin Kline), and gets a job at a magazine…or something. There he meets the annoying Mary (Katie Holmes) and develops a crush on her. Meanwhile, Louis discovers that the monetarily challenged Henry works evenings as an “extra man”. That is, he attends dinners and parties with elderly widows who need another man around to fill a spot at a table, etc, or to just feel less lonely. For some reason, Louis wants to do this too.
And that’s all I know because that’s as far as I got. And I may have even messed up some of that plot description. It wasn’t easy to follow as my interest waned.
This was the very definition of a movie spinning its wheels and going nowhere. I honestly thought it had to be almost over before I checked how far into I was and saw that it was only half way through. There was just scene after scene that went absolutely nowhere. I didn’t care about, or understand, any of the characters. The cinematography wasn’t very interesting. The dialogue wasn’t witty or believable. There was no reason to keep watching.
As for the performances…well, I already mentioned that Katie Holmes was just annoying. Paul Dano…well…Paul, admittedly I haven’t seen all of your movies, but judging by the ones I have seen…you might want to think about branching out and trying something new. You’re starting to make Michael Cera look like Johnny Depp. At least try a new haircut.
When I described Kevin Kline’s character as eccentric, I meant it. Aside from his peculiar night job, he’s got a few odd views on life and society that he’s not afraid to share…oh, and he likes to dance around and sing in his pajamas. Plus, often Kline seems like he’s acting in a play while everybody else is in a movie. Just one more thing that wore on my nerves.
Normally I don’t condone abandoning a movie half way through, especially if you’re planning to write a review of it later. If I was still doing my movie-a-day thing, I would have powered through this one, but in this case, it just wasn’t worth continuing. As Siskel & Ebert said above, isn’t life too precious to waste watching something you have absolutely no desire to watch?
I decided that it was.
I’d be interested to hear other opinions on this movie, if anybody’s actually watched it…and finished it. Not that I’d be persuaded to go back, rent it again, and finish it, but it would be nice to know that there’s at least something redeeming in the movie.
For now I’ll just assume that I turned it off right before the zombies showed up and ate everybody…