Stress and Success: I believe that "Man About Town" gets to the soul of work-life balance in a surprising way. A head review on IMDb compares it to American Beauty -- I think this makes it too heavy and the themes too weighty -- it is Jersey Girl with grown-ups - has farce, charm, and truly poignant scenes, as well as a man who as his life goes down the toilet makes his soul play and work for him.
Is it about the material waste vs. romance? : well, no not really; a modern parable of values; a little; an Italian drama with American values played out like a french comedy romance: definitely.
There is a strong cast: A pythonesque cameo breaks up the story into segments. Howard Hesseman as the father is a better role than expected: and he delivers a class performance. A face I hadn't noticed before, Damien Wayans, (well according to IMDb his previous credits include "cousin carrying plastic bag" in Don't be a Menace to South Central while Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, 'nuff said...) here he handles the foil of Ben Affleck's necessarily flack-like performance with real aplomb as the put-upon PA. He has behind the fluff a serious look that would lend well to comedy and/or drama. Bet we'll see more of him.
The treatment lends to being real handled with verve and vigor: covering the gamut from farce to bathos - and for my money hit a surprising number of home runs. Ben Affleck - a man driven to the point of desperation, and reconnection gives a deceptively light performance: I would have to say they are some awesome skills going into this - sometime he makes it look too easy, too, what's the word, smiley ?, but it is nicely played. It is his most mature role to date and he handles this tale of a man discovering his true values and maturity with a measured casualness.
On filming: I found the approach to filming itself more complex than I expected the lighting and sound are both clever and discrete; and it is well lit. Obviously style and architecture and the LA dream are nicely displayed: great design. The office really looks right, down to the door handles.
The editing makes good sense and keeps the pace in a natural story that jumps pace and genre : and there are some shots with lifts that are unique (!) and worth checking out for that reason alone.
It is funny particularly good on the visual jokes, but not overly crude, but It also moved me to tears four times - no mean feat - and my wife even more.
Mike Binder, who both wrote and directed this, is getting really close to having a real hit - I sense a director ready to take on a big star, and big themes and fly with them.
Overall, I enjoyed this tremendously and would say: more like it please. It is kind of familiar territory and many critics will point to it as too mixed up to be clear: but I would argue that the theme of redemption is clearer than the lax comic relief that occasionally surfaces -- and the silliness is light relief and flows out of the plot.
This film about a film executive who caught the success train early and now feels the baggage carriage rocketing up fast could itself be difficult to categorize as comedy romance drama etc; and that may be a weakness in marketing, but it is a strength in the telling: I found it a very rounded experience. Who wouldn't want to find films that touch the soul and here we have.
Worth the rental (And a release - This should be a release with real marketing values - right?) -- yup and how.
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