It’s sort of like that awkward visit to the nursing home when you get there a little bit too early and accidentally witness grandpa getting beaten by an orderly with his own belt for pissing himself for the tenth time that morning. In other words, it’s uncomfortable.
If, like me, you happen to own your own personal time machine, then you also have the luxury of being able to transport yourself back to an era when Michael Douglas was a huge fucking star. For a period in the 80’s and 90’s, Douglas was versatile enough to play a steel-nerved Wall Street tycoon, a psychopath having a nervous breakdown or a genuinely desirable business man dealing with a bad blind date and still generate serious bank at the box office. Hell, he could have released a series of cooking videos that consisted of nothing but Douglas in an apron violently sawing through reams of raw meat and then blowtorching them to a crisp and still received Oscar consideration.
But the funny thing about leading men in Hollywood is that they age, and sometimes the roles don’t age with them. Oh sure, the plot of any recent Michael Douglas film might call for a grizzled 66 year old to make an appearance onscreen, but the trouble is Douglas hasn’t quite grasped the concept that he also has to act like a 66 year old now too. Deep in denial, MD has slithered his way to the bottom of the casting barrel, occupying that ghetto of roles that call for wrinkly sleazebags who used to be hot shit with the ladies but who now are honestly physically repulsive. Douglas digs into these roles with the kind of enthusiasm that betrays the audience’s certainty that if his character ever did manage to drop his pants his withered prick would instantly disintegrate into dust.
This is the problem with Solitary Man. At first glance the script reads like a character study of a man who refuses to acknowledge he is aging – essentially, the perfect role for Douglas. However, this is the movies one single, interminable theme. MD manages to bag 18 year old bitches, throw his life away not once but twice and completely alienate his family all in the pursuit of polishing his rapidly failing charisma. And at the end...well, it’s sort of like that awkward visit to the nursing home when you get there a little bit too early and accidentally witness grandpa getting beaten by an orderly with his own belt for pissing himself for the tenth time that morning. In other words, it’s uncomfortable.
Some stars are able to age gracefully. Witness Sean Connery, a man who managed to segue from playing a badass spy to playing a sadly out of touch teacher (you’re the man now, dog!). Or Adam Sandler, who no longer always feels the need to dip into his own personal Troubled Assets Relief Program and hand out a role to handjob king Rob Schneider. Maybe the three of them could get together in the interests of saving Michael Douglas’ career, and make their own touching film about coming to terms with maturity. It could be called “Three Men and It’s A Little Too Late For Your Career.”
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