Mike Kueber's Blog

October 5, 2014

Saturday Night at the Movies #127 – Draft Day and Solitary Man

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 5:12 am
Tags: , , ,

One of my best friends is a Cleveland Browns fanatic, and he fanatically recommended that I watch Draft Day (2014) because it, not only revolves around a sport I love (NFL football), but also centers of a fictionalized Cleveland Browns team. But my friend’s movie tastes and mine don’t often agree (he seems mesmerized by an eclectic collection of movies that match his hobbies, politics, and religion, regardless of their quality of production), so I didn’t get around to watching Draft Day until it finally became available on Netflix.

My friend was right. The story is fascinating, and the quality of production is just as good. The only weakness is in the storyline is the plausibility of some Draft Day trades. Kevin Costner is perfectly cast as the general manager, as are the supporting cast of Jennifer Garner (girlfriend), Dennis Leary (coach), and Frank Langella (owner), and each character is well developed. The only weak link is Griffin Newman as “Rick the Intern,” a comedic character who has no place in this serious drama.

I was a little surprised that the Rotten Tomato critics approved the movie only at 62% and even more surprised that the audience liked it at only 69%. I can’t imagine a football fan not loving the movie. I give it four out of four stars, while conceding that Chicago Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper, who gave the film a “B,” was dead-on in describing it as, “a sentimental, predictable, sometimes implausible but thoroughly entertaining, old-fashioned piece.”

Solitary Man (2009) has a 60ish Michael Douglas going through his middle-aged crazies. He plays a Donald Trump-like tycoon whose empire has crumbled because of discreditable dealings and behavior, and at the same time he notices that, instead of being the star of every room he enters, he is now invisible to his erstwhile groupies. Because his ego can’t abide that insult, he starts chasing, mostly successfully, every young thing in a skirt.

Douglas is excellent, along with an impressive ensemble cast that includes Danny DeVito (former friend), Jenna Fischer (daughter), Susan Sarandon (ex-wife), Jessie Eisenberg (acquaintance), and Mary Louise-Parker (girlfriend).

Being a 60ish guy who has been falsely accused of going through a midlife crisis, the storyline sucked me in. Two scenes in the movie were especially personal to me:

  1. Being invisible. About 20 years ago in the Hills & Dales icehouse, a good friend warned me that at our age we were invisible to any young girls in the establishment. At the time, I pooh-poohed the suggestion, but eventually came to realize that, although he might have been prematurely pessimistic, he was eventually bound to be correct. It is undeniable that time and tide wait on no man.
  2. Svengali’s modus operandi. Douglas’s modus operandi in successfully seducing young women is to suggest that they have experienced major disappointments in their previous sexual experiences and then to strongly suggest that those disappointments will disappear under the tender touch of an experienced older hand. I have another friend who often uses that same spiel, although not with as much success as Michael Douglas.

Although the Douglas character is horribly flawed, I found myself rooting for him to finally see the light. The Rotten Tomato critics loved the movie at 81%, but the audience was only at 50%. I don’t recall any other movie with such a large discrepancy in favor of the critics, but I agree with them and give the movie three and a half stars out of four.

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