Tagline: We’re All Works In Progress.
To say that the writer-director Paul Weitz has worked on a mixed bag of material is an understatement. He shamelessly went for the teen market with his debut, American Pie, but showed he could also do “serious” with the adaptation a few years later of Nick Hornby’s About a Boy (admittedly, these were co-directed with his brother Chris). When he’s gone at it alone, the likes of In Good Company didn’t really hit home (was it a comedy or a drama?), and American Dreamz polarized audiences. But he was nevertheless given a money-making franchise in Little Fockers, the third movie from the Meet the Parents family of films.
And the constant in those movies was Robert De Niro, who must have been sufficiently impressed by Weitz to have signed up for Being Flynn. Based on a true story, as everything seems to be these days, the film follows Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) who is shocked to find out that his long-absent and eccentric (he’s of the opinion that he, Mark Twain and J.D. Salinger are the only great American writers) father, Jonathan (De Niro) has reached out to him. Still reeling from the loss of his mother, seen in flashbacks by Julianne Moore, and dealing with a blossoming romance with Denise (Olivia Thirlby), you can’t blame Nick for not wanting to reconnect with his dad.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, De Niro and Weitz have found “the most congenial material either of them has had in quite some time in Being Flynn, a fractious father-son drama with a soul-warming gentle core.” Slant is less sure, noting that “if De Niro knew what was good for him, he’d certainly distance himself from this director and find a new path.” So let’s give the casting vote to the Village Voice, which noted that, “what the actors are unable to get across emotionally … Weitz hammers home via near-constant music.” Still, at least that music is provided by Damon Gough, who did such sterling work on Weitz’s About a Boy. We all can agree on that, right?
NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: While it’s not one of his insufferable cameos and actually a meaty, substantive role, Robert De Niro in Being Flynn must play second fiddle to The Lorax.