San Diego's Morning News with Ted and LaDona

San Diego's Morning News with Ted and LaDona

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At The Movies With Josh: The Fall Guy

This is the type of movie I hate reviewing, because I didn’t like it, and everyone else on the planet is going to love it (and all the early reviews from critics have liked it). It makes me look like one of those types of critics, and I’m not. This film is just uneven tonally, it tries to be a satire that becomes the type of movie it’s spoofing, most of the jokes fall flat, and it’s showing us a side of Hollywood that we’ve already seen before in better films. So we just get a bunch of clichés, with a few good stunts.

Colt Seavers (the always charming Ryan Gosling) is a stuntman for Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). He’s that type of Hollywood jerk we’ve seen on screen before, treating everyone around him like crap. He wants Colt to do a dangerous falling stunt again, because he feels too much of the stuntman’s face is shown (or some such thing). He breaks his back during the second attempt, and because of that, decides to change his phone number and stop seeing his girlfriend, Jody (Emily Blunt), who has been a camera operator on the film. I’m not sure the logic as to why he wants to stop seeing her over the injury makes sense, but most of what happens in this film makes little sense. 

A pushy producer named Gail (Hannah Waddingham from Ted Lasso), who always seems to do anything Ryder wants, tricks Colt into joining the stunt team of Jody’s new movie “Metal Storm.” This leads us to unfunny (and unrealistic) scenes of them bickering over their previous relationship. That will include an argument through bullhorns, about the characters in the script, that’s really about their relationship (the scene was saved by an actor in an alien costume adding his two cents).

Oftentimes, it’s the alien costumes that save scenes. Another time, in their meta way, these two (who do have decent chemistry), talk about the script over the phone, and whether or not they should do split-screen (as the movie has them move into split screen). It was so utterly stupid, aside from her contemplating something, while wearing huge alien hands that she places on her face.

Anyway, the producer talks Colt into finding the lead actor, because he went off on a drugging binge with some bad people, and she fears for his life. Not sure why Colt agrees to do this, or why he doesn’t tell Jody that he’s going to do this. It made a lot more sense in the movie “Layer Cake” when Daniel Craig’s character is told by the head crime boss, to go find someone (since Craig was dealing drugs for him), or a similar thing in Guy Ritchie’s underrated “RocknRolla.” 

Of course, everything goes wrong, and now people are trying to kill Colt. That means we get some generic looking bad guys, with lots of machine gun fire, and no cops in sight. At least one fight scene, with Colt trying to throw punches after being drugged, was kind of fun (and reminded me of the much better movie “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”).

Director David Leitch is a former stuntman who started directing movies that were heavy in fighting and stunts, and weak with plot (those would include John Wick, Hobbs & Shaw, Nobody, Violent Night, Bullet Train, and Atomic Blonde). He’s given a screenplay by Drew Pearce that is trying to combine many genres, sprinkled with lots of humor (most of which doesn’t land). Now, some jokes were cute. Listening to Colt argue with his girlfriend about the movies “Love, Actually” and “Notting Hill” – after spending a lot of time with other characters quoting movie lines, and him getting “Pretty Woman” mixed up with those films. But if only one joke works for every 10 delivered, that’s disappointing.

There are decent actors in supporting roles (Winston Duke and Stephanie Hsu), but they never act like real people. So much of this movie just feels like a goofy spoof, with Easter eggs for other films (and a continuous joke about whether this movie will make “Hall H” at Comic Con).

I don’t know why it bothers me when characters on screen don’t act realistically. In this movie, it’s bad because it’s every single character. Even when Colt takes a job parking cars, the way a famous actor recognizes him, berates him, and tells him “If you don’t scratch my car, there’s an extra fiver in it for ya.”

No obnoxious fat cat says that to valets, except in movies. I thought about how much better and more realistic it was in the fabulous movie “The Wrestler” when Mickey Rourke has to take a job at a grocery store deli, and someone recognizes him, and it’s humiliating for him, but not because the customer is being overly obnoxious, just because the wrestler is realizing how far he’s fallen in life.

The movie had so many clichés, I just couldn’t help but think of other films that were done better. Even the opening, which blasts the Kiss song “I Was Made For Loving You” – and is played throughout the film, was done so much better in the Bryan Cranston comedy “Why Him?”

This film was just too sloppy for me. It’s one of the rare times my wife and I disagreed. She said, “It’s a popcorn film, and I had fun with it. And, I got to look at Ryan Gosling for two hours.”

Hard to argue with that logic, and most people will feel the same way. I wanted a bit more. It’s just not as hip as it thinks it is.

2 stars out of 5.

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