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Movie Review: Solitary Man

Alternate Title: Regrets, He Had a Few

Story: The anti-hero as protagonist can go either way. The character can be so despicable and non-redemptive that he is simply a cartoon. Or, as in this deft presentation by directors David Levien and Brian Koppelman (written by Mr. Koppelman) it can be a fine character study with great writing and terrific performances.

Ben Kalman personifies smarm. He is a fallen car dealership mogul who once graced the cover of Forbes Magazine. Via his own self-destructive path he managed in a short period of time to ruin his family life and go from king of the world to a short order cook. The film is a study of a family who is trying to cope with Kalman's behavior as a compulsive womanizer, liar and all around creep and a study of the man himself. Similar to Larry David's character on Curb Your Enthusiasm we await just how the character will screw up the next scene. He doesn't disappoint. He is consistently a train wreck.

It is hard to believe that this mess of a man can warrant any interest - but the fine acting and writing allow us to slowly begin to care about what will happen to this mess of a life.

Check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baLqGFCZZrU

Here's Neil Diamond singing Solitary Man from 1971: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Rz92JWtS50

Acting: Michael Douglas as Ben Kalmen is perfect. He has been playing this character for a long time and he does it very well. Mary-Louise Parker as Jordan Karsch, the displeased lady friend does the vindictive act to perfection. Jenna Fischer as daughter, Susan Porter is sympathetic. Jesse Eisenberg as student Daniel Cheston, has earnestness down pat. Imogen Poots as Allyson Karsch is terrifically bitchy. Susan Sarandon as ex-wife Nancy Kalmen plays an age appropriate woman to a tee. Danny DeVito as longtime friend is really a long time friend (see trivia below).

Trivia: Michael Douglas roomed with Danny DeVito when first starting out. Michael is exactly 25 years older than his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones. The two of them share a birthday, September 25th. He is of Russian-Jewish, Scottish, and Irish heritage.

Predilection: None

Critters: 0

Food: Birthday cake, diner food.

Sex Spectrum:

Blatant Product Placement: Apple computer, iPhone

Soundtrack: Solitary Man, written by Neil Diamond and sung by Johnny Cash is a fine example of the soundtrack.

Opening Titles: A vignette showing Ben Kalman being diagnosed by his doctor. Flash forward six years to present time with the title, Solitary Man and song playing in the background. The rest of the credits are at the end.

Visual Art: Rich people have nice homes.

Theater Audience: About 20 other people and us.

Weather: Unremarkable.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I did not drift at all.

Predictability Level: High.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine.

Length: Under two hours.