Sunday, August 22, 2010


Review: The Extra Man
4 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund

One way for a young man to thicken his skin upon moving to New York is to surround himself with some of the city's most aloofly outrĂ© eccentrics. That's what Louis Ives, a sheepish dreamer played by sheepishness pro Paul Dano, unwittingly does in “The Extra Man,” the deeply weird and weirdly deep new comedy from Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, the husband-and-wife filmmaking team behind 2007's “American Splendor.” Booted from his teaching job at a Princeton prep school after being caught in a compromising spot (he's got a thing for ladies' underthings that goes well beyond the typical male turn-ons), Louis decides to head to Manhattan, a move partly prompted by the aspiring writer's tendency to imagine himself as a character in “The Great Gatsby,” or any other novel by his literary hero, F. Scott Fitzgerald. But even one so imaginative as Louis couldn't have dreamed he'd wind up living with someone like Henry Harrsion, an out-of-work playwright with outsized quirks who rents Louis a room in his knickknack-strewn foxhole of an apartment. Played riotously well by Kevin Kline, Henry is the first and surely the most memorable of the fun and fancy freaks who enter Louis's life, which does indeed start to look like something out of a Great – or, at least greatly urbane and deranged – American novel.


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