The Extra Man [Blu-ray]
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It's the search-for-identity story of Louis Ives (Paul Dano), a young English teacher we see fired in the film's opening scene. Louis uses the setback to follow his heart to Manhattan, where he hopes to pursue a career as a writer. His first priority is to find a home, which leads him to answer the apartment-sharing ad of the endlessly eccentric Henry Harrison (Kevin Kline). Soon, the introverted Louis gets sucked into Henry's wacky world, peopled with the likes of elderly billionairess Vivian Cudlip (Marian Seldes) and Klingon-like neighbor Gershon (John C. Reilly).
This is an odd story filled with quirky and sometimes off-putting characters. There's something anachronistic about Dano's Louis, exhibited outwardly in old-fashioned manners and vintagey three-piece suits and inwardly in his Gatsby-esque fantasy life. Classic fiction isn't the only thing Louis fantasizes about, though. In fact, he's tentatively exploring his sexuality and trying to come to terms with transvestite urges, all while pining for a pretty co-worker (Katie Holmes).
Henry, on the other hand, is larger than life, and Kevin Kline throws himself fully into the role--literally, as it happens, when the character dances. Henry isn't particularly nice.Read more ›
The movie is about two fruitcakes, two off-the-wall flakes who get together and blend their nuttiness into a friendship. Louis (Paul Danol) is kind of unworldly, a dreamer, a teacher in an exclusive prep school in Princeton, New Jersey. Louis has an urge to be a cross dresser, and is turned on by women's undergarments. One day while holding up a bra to his chest in the faculty room, he's caught by a matronly staff member, is canned, and decides to go to New York to become a writer. He has always admired Gatsby.
In New York he answers an ad for apartment sharing and is interviewed by Henry Harrison, an older "gentleman" (brilliantly played by Kevin Kline), the apartment's resident tenant, who has weird, iconoclastic and screwy ideas about everything. Henry is broke but he's a walker, an extra man who accompanies women to dinners and events. He's not a gigolo, but he does like the good life with his wealthy older women friends of the Palm Beach circuit. Henry is his own worst enemy, is finicky, touchy, hypercritical and turns people off.
A neighbor in the apartment building is Gershon (John C. Reilly) another kook who is very funny because of his high-pitched voice (adopted for this movie). I think this is the kind of movie Charles Dickens would have loved, because the characters are done in broad strokes of caricature. Anyone who has lived in Manhattan will know that these oddballs would fit right in. In the movie nothing seems totally realistic, but that's the essence of comedy: the odd, the eccentric, off-the-wall fun.Read more ›
I'm surprised by the tepid reception this got, but their loss! I howled with laughter many many times during this incredibly droll film, especially at the Kline scenes. The guy has never been funnier, except maybe in Wanda. This kind of humor is probably waaay too dry for many, but if you like Wes Anderson or Jared Hess or any other off-beat, smart new writer/director, there's something for you here.
I'd go so far as to compare this to Withnail And I and Death At A Funeral (the original) for its sustained yet muffled hilarity, and those are two of the funniest modern movies I know. Not all of The Extra Man is great, but most of it is, if your mind is open and your funny bone doesn't mind being tickled from various obtuse angles. I laughed more during this film than most any movie I've seen in a year or two, but then I like it dry, and this is that, to be sure.
Ames' characters are both endearing and frustrating, and ring true in all their satiric excesses. I liked everyone in this, and even Reilly's campy voicework somehow fits in, particularly in the beach scene. The cross-dressing might be a little weird for some, but then weird can lead to some very unique laughs, and the scene with the Spankologist has a gorgeous moment: watch her face after their first kiss. It glows in joy and memories of much younger days and it's actually very touching, made even better by being subtle and brief.
There's a lot of heart in this film, and I'm surprised more folks didn't feel it. I sure did, and think it's a minor masterpiece in its own way, especially if you know enough older people to enjoy the sly wit Ames and Pulcini/Berman share with us.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quirky but with good performances. Highlight was John C. Reilly as Gershon Gruen. Movie not sure where it really wanted to go.Published 7 days ago by zacwbd
SLoooow. Great acting but the plot was quite lacking. Just not interestingPublished 2 months ago by Flower Power
Very entertaining and funny. I have watched it more than once. Kevin Kline is hilarious. And the premise of the movie is what makes it so.Published 3 months ago by Emma A. Fine
I found this movie to be more introspective than expected. The characters are edgy, but entertaining and appeal to the viewer's compassion for the loneliness in all people. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mary L. Schmidt
Terrible dribble, impossible to follow, turned it off after five minutes. Who writes the previews for your movies?Published 12 months ago by George Braun
Very off beat but wonderful vehicle for Kline. Great supporting cast.Published 13 months ago by jeffrey appel
This movie is/was so boring and stupid that it was a cinch to fall asleep. Apparently, it is so awful that the provider told me to keep it when I went to return - they refunded my... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Robert B. Cutaiar
Such an interesting quirky little movie. Good actors with a story full of humanity and humor. It was not what I expected, which made it even more delightful. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Kelly Allen