What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is an adult movie with mature themes, lots of sexual discussion and some sexual, and a leading character who, in an effort to delay aging and mortality, obsessses about his appeal and sexual prowess, targeting women of all ages. In one scene, he takes on a male college student in a fist fight, and then later is brutally beaten by a hired thug. Alcoholic beverages are frequently consumed at social gatherings, dinners, etc., sometimes by underage drinkers. One scene depicts the film's hero as very drunk.
What's the story?
Ben Kalman's (Michael Douglas) life is coming apart. He's a persistent womanizer, a skilled manipulator, and a callous liar. His long-term marriage to Nancy (Susan Sarandon) is over; his beloved daughter's patience with him is wearing thin; he's recently sabotaged a successful and profitable Fortune 500 career; and he's in the final throes of self-destructing in his newest relationship. Grasping at what he is afraid are his last days of virility and power, Ben behaves badly and makes a series of devastatingly poor choices that send him even closer to the brink of disaster.
Is it any good?
Michael Douglas seems to do his very best work when he's playing a heel (Wall Street, Wonder Boys), and that's very much the case here. He slips easily and vividly into the role of Ben Kalman, a perfect vehicle that plays to his strengths. The story doesn't break any new ground, but it's well told and includes standout supporting performances from top to bottom, with Danny DeVito in a rare dramatic role; Jenna Fischer revealing much more than she gets to show in her television work; and Jesse Eisenberg, who's fast becoming the go-to college wonder boy himself.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the acceptance of life's passages and aging. How does Hollywood and the cult of celebrity affect society's attitudes about growing older?
Ben Kalman is dishonest in many of his relationships. What price does he pay? How do you think the story would have changed if he had gotten away with his behavior?
The film's ending is ambiguous. Why do you think the filmmakers made that choice?