What I Watched 3.10.11: The Extra Man/ Four Lions.

Posted: March 11, 2011 in Movies (E), Movies (F), What I Watched

   

Four Lions was one of my favorite movies of the last year, and it’s just as funny on the second viewing — mostly because you can catch a lot of the jokes you missed the first time around.  Here’s my original reaction.

The Extra Man is the most recent movie from the team behind American Splendor, based on the novel by Jonathan Ames, which I finally got to read last week.  All three of them were in on adapting the script to film, and that’s one reason why it’s not too upsetting to note that there are several key differences between the book and the movie. The role that Katie Holmes plays is expanded, some of the more overt sexual stuff is toned way down, and a super-civilized narrator is on hand to supply key information about Paul Dano’s lead character Louis Ives that otherwise couldn’t be demonstrated on film. In a neat Ames-ian innovation, the narration is shown to be something that Louis Ives imagines, as a celebratory appreciation of his escapades as a young gentleman in New York.  It’s a good example of smart adaptation.

Somehow the movie slipped by me last year, but it’s worth seeing, particularly if you’re a fan of J. Ames and his HBO series Bored To Death. His humor really translates.  Having read the book so recently, I have to say that the main roles are perfectly cast — Kevin Kline is particularly excellent as the pretentious, outrageous, somewhat indescribable Henry Harrison, and John C. Reilly is truly worth the price of admission.  He’s even funnier here than he was in the entirety of Step Brothers, and I’m a huge fan of that movie.

The Extra Man is strange, sweet, and unclassifiable, which is probably why it was overlooked whenever it was released, but to a certain kind of twisted intellectual or smart-ass goof-off (like me), it’s a satisfying movie.

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