On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN (Tribeca Film) .
THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN
A tissue-thin romance that sags under the weight of its own whimsy, THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN is a time-filler that looks as if it were assembled by spreadsheet rather than by a filmmaker passionate to tell story – The Giant Mechanical Film.
Lee Kirk’s debut feature as writer/director checks off all the boxes: a TV-star-with-indie-cred lead (Jenna Fisher, who is married to Kirk), a soulful male lead with proven chops (Chris Messina, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA), a couple of up-and-comers in support (Malin Akerman, WANDERLUST; Rich Sommer, MAD MEN), and a star in a quirky character part (Topher Grace, SPIDER-MAN 3). Throw in a South-by-Southwest-ready “post-rock” soundtrack featuring such performers as El Ten Eleven and shoot in a filmmaker-friendly tax-credit location – Michigan, which is neck-and-neck with Louisiana in the race to see how many of its cities can stand in for Anytown, USA – and boom! You got yourself a little flick.
Jenna Fischer / THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN (Tribeca Film)
Not that there’s anything wrong with little. Slight stories about sad people can be finely wrought, as evidenced in the last year by both ROADIE and MAN ON THE TRAIN, each of which delicately depicted the ravages of loneliness. The issue with THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN lies in its pallid, listless script which breathes no new life into its subject.
After Fischer’s Janice is axed by her temp agency employer, she is forced to move in with her insufferable sister and brother-in-law, played by Akerman and Sommer. At the same time, Messina’s Tim is dumped by his girlfriend, who’s fed up with his forsaking real work in favor of slathering himself in silver makeup and strapping on stilts to pose in local plazas as the Giant Mechanical Man.
Will the human statue and the silent-film-loving waif find happiness with each other? Will there be misunderstandings along the way? Is Grace, as the obnoxiously clueless motivational speaker, really wearing that wig? Kirk provides the answers to these and other questions in a pat, simplistic script that begs for a surprise or two.
Among the actors, Messina stands out for not slipping into caricature, as Akerman, Sommer, and Grace all do. Though the soulful and sometimes self-righteous Tim Janice is such a sad sack that Fischer’s natural warmth doesn’t have much of a chance to shine until it’s almost too late. Even Bob Odenkirk, whose prickly humor can enlinve almost any scene he’s in, is surprisingly wooden.
It’s a drag when an effort like THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN fails, because it’s always a joy to discover a jewel of a story filled with familiar, talented actors. As it stands, though, THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN is a creaky construction that could use some oil. Or a rewrite.
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com
THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN (Tribeca) can be found on your cable's system's movies on demand section.
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