Sunday, July 11, 2010

Solitary Man - 3 1/2 stars

Michael Douglas plays a pretty despicable guy, but since he's Michael Douglas, we still root for him. For a while, anyway.

He used to be a very successful businessman. He owned car dealerships all over New York City and he was even on the cover of Forbes magazine. We never get the details of exactly what happened, but he engaged in some illegal scam, got busted, and his reputation was ruined. He was also married to Susan Sarandon before he started cheating on her with every hot, young girl who would say yes to him.

Now he is trying to re-start his business. He is also dating Mary Louise Parker. His downward spiral starts when he accompanies her daughter to her college interview. As the movie progresses, he is having trouble paying his rent and he is ruining every relationship in his life because he can't stop sleeping around.

As bad as his character is, the other characters are pretty refreshing. Susan Sarandon knows what a scumbag he is, but she is still there for him when he needs someone. Jenna Fischer plays his daughter, and she does a great job standing up to him. You can tell how hard it is for her to cut off his access to his grandson. Danny Devito also gives a nice understated performance as a friend from college. There is a nice scene near the end where Douglas tells Devito that he doesn't know how to be a good friend to anybody.

Jessie Eisenberg has a few scenes as a college kid who gives Douglas a tour of the college. They form a friendship and Douglas gives him advice about girls. I would have liked a bit more with the two of them. Eisenberg is shy, doesn't have a girlfriend, and Douglas is going to help him out with that. But by the end of the movie, he has also screwed that relationship up.

I think this is the best work Michael Douglas has done since Wonder Boys, and it's nice to see Douglas and Devito together in a movie again.

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