Manglehorn 2.jpg
UK Release Date 7th August 2015
Director David Gordon Green
Starring Al Pacino, Holly Hunter
Runtime 97 Minutes
Certificate 12A
Reviewer Si
Reviewed 6th August 2015

Old age it would seem forces male actors into one of two outcomes. Option a - they can go crazy nuts and revisit their youth or Option b - they emit a gigantic sigh, turn their voice to gravel and wander around looking lost. There’s obviously an Option c where they continue to be awesome but that doesn’t suit the narrative I’m forming here. Female actors of course just become increasingly unemployed. Because, you know, boobs.

Anyways, if my wearied tone hasn’t already alerted you, this is where we meet Manglehorn, the eponymous non-hero of David Gordon Green’s latest movie. Green has what you could uncharitably call an uneven CV but to be honest, anyone who had ANYTHING to do with the magnificence that was Eastbound & Down gets a pass in my book. Add to that the very impressive Joe from a couple of years back and at BS Towers, we’re willing to give anything of Green’s a go. Which of course leads to the odd disappointment.

Apparently the product of a meeting with Pacino at a shoot for a commercial (Pacino was having trouble getting into the commercial - alarm bell right there), Green’s latest tells the tale of one A. J. Manglehorn, an OAP locksmith who spends his long lonely days helping people break into (presumably their own) cars and houses and his even lonelier evenings worrying about the health of his cat, whose name escapes me but it’s something ridiculous like Princess. To break up his weary, borderline alcoholic life, Manglehorn pinballs between weekly visits to the bank, ostensibly to pay in money but mostly to awkwardly flirt with Holly Hunter’s cashier Dawn, weird nights out with an ex school pupil he once coached, bothering his hugely successful investment son, taking his granddaughter to the park and writing letters which he sends to The Love of His Life. Which he then posts to a long vacated address. 

Manglehorn’s life is not a happy one then but the big, massive, universe sized question over that is, do you give a shit? The resounding answer for me is an equally gigantic hell no. Not even a tiny bit. As much love as the man can display towards his foreign object ingesting cat, he just can’t display towards any of the grown ups in his life. The granddaughter does well out of him but only because he seems able to communicate within her age range. Son? No dice, daddy doesn’t care, can’t communicate, never loved the mother. Bank teller? Nope, can’t cope with that, says unpleasant things. Weirdly needy ex school pupil who he coached at baseball? Don’t even go there, that guy is going to get a kicking….

And through all this, Pacino does what is fast becoming his new trademark slow shuffle - hair slicked back into an almost mullet, gaudy earring distracting you in any closeups and his voice getting more and more gravelly, seemingly in real time. I’m not saying it’s bad performance, it’s just that, as with the character, why should I care? Then there is the ever magnificent Holly Hunter. Exuding the only colour and interest in this entire movie. Honestly, if you watch this film, close your eyes when you get back from the cinema and picture a scene in your mind. Dull green colour, year? Dull green with a wonderful ray of sunlight in the centre where Hunter is wasting her precious time.

Green and writer Paul Logan do nobody any favours with the rest of the movie. At one stage we get Manglehorn strolling through the woods near his house until he chances upon a car accident that seems to involve a huge amount of red watermelon and half a dozen or so cars lined up in an utterly illogical way. Why? Because you know, quirky, that’s why. I have no conceivable idea how the cars could have ended up as they did or why the only paramedic on the scene seems to be tending to an entirely conscious victim whilst ignoring the one nearest to his vehicle who is HANGING OUT OF THE WINDOW of her car. I’m sure this is supposed to be impressionistic or some rubbish but again, why should I care? Pacino just ambles past and the very significant music plays.

In Short:

Manglehorn is worth watching for one scene and Holly Hunter is the only person worth watching in that one scene. I won’t spoil it on the off chance you do find this on Netflix in a few months time but suffice to say it involves a wonderfully human reaction to the worst date ever. As for the rest? Well, what more can I say about a movie that thinks it a good idea to intercut graphic images of cat bowel surgery with two people flirting? This is yet another movie that presents its old, male protagonist as a complete arsehole but then presents this as okay because he knows he’s a complete arsehole and tells the lady so at the end. Another movie that mistakes random events and behaviour as whimsey, dreamy music as portentous and, worst of all, makes the mistake of thinking that it is making me give any kind of shit about the main character.

Actually, you know what really tipped me over the edge with this movie? Pisspoor boat recycling. Yeah, that was what nailed the ageing lid on the melancholic coffin. Dawn not only deserves a much better man than the one she meets here, Hunter deserves a better movie to play her in.

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