(director: Lina Roessler; screenwriter: Anthony Grieco; cinematographer: Claudine Sauvé; editor: Arthur Tarnowski; music:Paul Leonard-Morgan; cast: Michael Caine (Harris Shaw), Aubrey Plaza (Lucy Stanbridge), Scott Speedman (Jack Sinclair), Ellen Wong (Rachel Spence), Cary Elwes (Halpern Nolan), Veronica Ferres (Drew Davis); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producers; Cassian Elwes, Arielle Elwes, Jonathan Vanger, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Pierre Even: Screen Media Films, Wishing Tree Productions; 2021-Canada/UK)
“Michael Caine at his best as a cranky author.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The debut feature film for Lina Roessler is a zany generation gap inspired comedy set in NYC that features the octogenarian Brit actor Michael Caine at his best as a cranky author fond of saying “Bullshite!” The film’s weakness comes from screenwriter Anthony Grieco’s slight script, which is often more silly than witty or funny.
Harris Shaw (Michael Caine) is the Brit widower, alcoholic writer, whose last book “Atomic Autumn,” a hit, was published some 50 years ago. According to his book contract, he’s obligated to write another book for his publisher. Knowing this is the young editor Lucy Stanbridge (Aubrey Plaza), who is trying to save her inherited deceased father’s independent publishing company from bankruptcy and a takeover by the snakelike publisher Jack Sinclair (Scott Speedman). Lucy reasons she can save dad’s business by publishing dad’s favorite author’s next book and making it a best seller.
With her assistant Rachel (Ellen Wong) she turns up at the withdrawn Harris’ run-down upstate house to find him pulling a shotgun on her. Despite the poor reception, Lucy talks him into letting her publish his finished manuscript – “The Future Is X-Rated” and in the bargain they make she relinquishes her right to edit it.
With the deal consummated, they go on a book tour together to promote the book with a drunken Harris pissing off Lucy with his bad behavior that includes assaulting the snobbish New York Times literary critic (Cary Elwes), treating millennials as dirt bags whom he views as moronic because they don’t read and frequently in interviews uttering “Bullshite!” – which becomes popularized as it goes viral on the Internet and earns him a cult following.
It’s a superficial dramedy that tries to make light of the clashes between art, commerce and celebrity. But makes up for its deficits with a great performance by Caine.
In interviews after the film’s release, Caine said despite a bad back he will continue making movies (and that’s good news for viewers).
REVIEWED ON 11/14/2021 GRADE: B-