MAN ABOUT TOWN (2006)
Starring Ben Affleck, Rebecca Romijn, Samuel Ball, Mike Binder, Gina Gershon, Adam Goldberg, Howard Hesseman, Bai Ling, Jerry O’Connell, Kal Penn, Amber Valletta, Damien Dante Wayans and John Cleese.
Screenplay by Mike Binder.
Directed by Mike Binder.
Distributed by Lions Gate Films. 100 minutes. Rated R.
The biggest problem with Man About Town is actually very similar to the flaw of writer/director/supporting actor Mike Binder’s old HBO sitcom The Mind of the Married Man. Binder seems to have this obsession with men who have better jobs and better women in life than they may deserve and yet still feel misused in both.
The main character here, Jack Giamoro (Ben Affleck) is married to a supermodel (Rebecca Romijn), who seems to be totally perfect and is willing to do absolutely anything, including groveling, to make up for a rather unlikely affair that she had — an affair that seems more based on the plot device than the character. He is rich. He has a home that most anyone would kill for. He’s a partner at a huge talent agency. He drives a beautiful car. His life seems way too perfect for us to get too worked up at his navel gazing.
It’s a shame, really, because Binder does have a very good ear for dialogue and basically has a great understanding of the inner workings of Hollywood (though he occasionally does not take full advantage of this insight.)
However, he all too often falls into lazy screenwriting traps. This is most obvious in a late scene in which he basically replays the entire dialogue of the famous Sharon Stone interrogation scene in Basic Instinct. Just because he is doing it ironically to point out the vapidness of Hollywood doesn’t make it seem any less of a cheat.
The movie actually throws in a lot of little cheats. The one truly tragic-seeming thing about Giamora’s life is that his father (Howard Hesseman) must live with him because he has suffered from a stroke. However, the character seems to be written much more as if he has Alzheimer’s than has had a stroke. Not that it isn’t just as interesting and tragic a condition, but it seems like they should decide on the malady.
Way too much of this movie also revolves around Jack’s journals. Jack takes a class on journal-writing as a journey of self-discovery; however, we are supposed to believe that this book has such scintillating information that he is essentially stalked, attacked and blackmailed by a screenwriter-turned-tabloid hack (Bai Ling). This woman is planning on making the scoop of her career by reporting that a talent agent may not care about art and that he has broken the law and has a screwed-up personal life. Hardly sounds like breaking news in LA. I’d assume most readers would say, “Yeah, tell me something I don’t know…”
Then, Binder returns to his skill for self-flagellation by making Jack torch his entire lifestyle just to show that he has become a completer and more complicated person. The stars of his shows never take things half-way. No learning to stop and smell the roses on the way to work for Binder protagonists. They must knock it all down so that they can be purified by their sacrifice.
Maybe it’s a legit response, but it seems a little of an overreaction. Which can pretty much be said of this film in general, too. (2/07)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 10, 2007.