Directed by Brian Koppelman and David Levien
As with any revenge tale, watching comeuppance get gotten carries an inevitable charge of satisfaction, especially when the target is righteous Boomer-cad extraordinaire Michael Douglas. Disgraced used-car king Ben Kalmen (Douglas) finds his mojo doesn't cut it anymore after a career-ending scam and a lotharian chain of post-health-scare affairs. The ex-macher and likeable bastard still has the support of his daughter (Jenna Fischer) and ex-wife (Susan Sarandon), but a seriously wrong move with a wealthy merciless girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker) and her college-prospective offspring (Imogen Poots) sends Ben tumbling ignobly down to a cheaper New York rental.
Brian Koppelman's screenplay is the kind in which canny folk are constantly sizing each other up, letting the audience vicariously become master readers and players. That makes the movie very watchable but it becomes a lazy way of summarizing characters and where they're at. The proof of a deeper problem comes with Kalmen's unnecessarily precipitous fall, which (appropriately enough) is partly staged at his alma mater and entails calling on an Old Buddy (Danny DeVito) who runs the campus diner.
Douglas's relaxed performance has great don't-give-a-damn-just-no moments, and when allowed to react outside the confines of the dialogue, he's (another) appealing perpetual regressor. But when Kalmen gets served Michael Douglas Movie plot turns and enlightening Sundance humble pie through DeVito, his forced contemplation in crisis loses out. Which puts the movie (presumably named with irony after the Neil Diamond-penned song) second to another solitary man earlier in the season, Greenberg.
Opens May 21<.b>