Diminished Capacity opens in Chicago—you can tell it’s Chicago because Kinney, highlighting his problems as a director, cues a jaunty tune about the town and decorates the walls with Cubs paraphernalia. Capacity tells but doesn’t show, perfunctorily blending storytelling shortcuts with convenient contrivances. Alan Alda wants to sell a rare baseball card and, lucky him, there’s a convention that weekend. Matthew Broderick bumps into his ex (Virginia Madsen)—in a convenience store no less—and learns she’s recently divorced. Maybe they’ll get back together?
While you wait to find out, Broderick leads the ensemble cast as a columnist who, following a chivalrously incurred concussion, can’t even edit the funny pages. His brain damage has only an arbitrary connection to the plot, but it at least gives the characters something to talk about, and Broderick an excuse to squint and look off to the side. Kinney collects the cast into a road-tripping coterie a la Little Miss Sunshine—with Alda in the Alan Arkin role—and sends them off to the memorabilia expo. Let the quirkiness begin! (Don’t forget to take cheap shots at rednecks while you’re in Missouri!)
The filmmakers kindly distill the major themes into single lines of dialogue—something about those who don’t know what they got don’t deserve to have it. Also: live for today! Valuable baseball cards become a metaphor for precious memories, and ball clubs for extended families, but listening to what the movie wants to say is tough, as it says it so ineptly. An experienced theater director and television actor, Kinney brings a TV-man’s lifeless visual style and over-reliance on cliché to his big screen debut. The film climaxes with a reel’s worth of labored predictabilities, in which every character—over a half dozen of them—gets a big speech or a redeeming final action. Everybody wins, except the suffering-for-the-last-90-minutes audience.