Man About Town
The biggest problem with
Man About Town is actually very similar to the flaw of
writer/director/supporting actor Mike Binder's old HBO sitcom The Mind of
the Married Man. Binder seems to have this obsession with men who
have better jobs and better women in life than they may deserve and yet
still feel misused in both.
The main character here,
Jack Giamoro (Ben Affleck) is married to a
supermodel (Rebecca Romijn), who seems to be totally perfect and is willing to do absolutely
anything, including groveling, to make up for a rather unlikely affair that
she had -- an affair that seems more based on the plot device than the character.
He is rich. He has a home that most anyone would kill for. He's
a partner at a huge talent agency. He drives a beautiful car.
His life seems way too perfect for us to get too worked up at his navel
It's a shame, really,
because Binder does have a very good ear for dialogue and basically has a
great understanding of the inner workings of Hollywood (though he
occasionally does not take full advantage of this insight.)
However, he all too often
falls into lazy screenwriting traps. This is most obvious in a late
scene in which he basically replays the entire dialogue of the famous Sharon
Stone interrogation scene in Basic Instinct. Just because he is
doing it ironically to point out the vapidness of Hollywood doesn't make it
seem any less of a cheat.
The movie actually throws
in a lot of little cheats. The one truly tragic-seeming thing about
Giamora's life is that his father (Howard Hesseman) has to live with him
because he has suffered from a stroke. However, the character seems to
be written much more as if he has Alzheimer's than has had a stroke.
Not that it isn't just as interesting and tragic a condition, but it seems
like they should decide on the malady.
Way too much of this movie
also revolves around Jack's journals. Jack takes a class on
journal-writing as a journey of self-discovery, however we are supposed to
believe that this book has such scintillating information that he is
essentially stalked, attacked and blackmailed by a
screenwriter-turned-tabloid hack (Bai Ling). This woman is planning on
making the scoop of her career by reporting that a talent agent may not care
about art and that he has broken the law and has a screwed-up personal life.
Hardly sounds like breaking news in LA. I'd assume most readers would
say, "Yeah, tell me something I don't know..."
Then, Binder returns to his
skill for self-flagellation by making Jack torch his entire lifestyle just
to show that he has become a more complete and complicated person. The
stars of his shows never take things half-way. No learning to stop and
smell the roses on the way to work for Binder protagonists. They have
to knock it all down so that they can be purified by their sacrifice.
Maybe it's a legit
response, but it seems a little of an overreaction. Which can pretty
much be said of this film in general, too. (2/07)
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Posted: February 10, 2007.