Day of Days
The last few years I’ve enjoyed seeing older actors I like getting starring roles in movies. The list includes Sally Field, Michael Keaton, Lily Tomlin, and most recently — Sam Elliott. The latest film I include on this list is Day of Days, which gives a nice part to Tom Skerritt. Here in San Diego, most people are probably familiar with him as Tom Cruise’s mentor in Top Gun. The grunge fans probably remember him from Singles (a movie done by a San Diegan — Cameron Crowe). The fans of chick-flicks probably loved him in Steel Magnolias. The sci-fi fans probably prefer Alien.
Two roles I also loved him in were the Stephen King film The Dead Zone. Something about him underplaying it as a cop investigating a murder, really worked. And as Brad Pitt’s father in one of the best movies ever made — A River Runs Through It. Now, the last thing I saw him in was a funny cameo in Seth MacFarlane’s Ted, where the boss is always trying to tell Mark Wahlberg how if he moves up in his job, he might someday become friends with Skerritt, as he is.
So I was thrilled that Skerritt got this role and wasn’t just relegated to small parts or bizarre cameos at this stage in his career. The 83-year-old actor plays a 91-year-old, and it was refreshing that the makeup all worked and he didn’t overact.
The film starts with Skerritt’s character waking up, and struggling to take a bath and get dressed up. After putting on his suit and tie, we see a home-aid worker (Claudia Zevallos) arrive. She’s nice enough, and you chuckle at how she’s trying to talk louder, and deal with this curmudgeon. It doesn’t help that instead of him just being upset that it’s not the usual woman that takes care of him, he’s convinced this will be the day he dies.
Zevallos seems to take it all in stride, until the day progresses, and we find out this Cuban refugee has lost a child. This also leads to some interesting dynamics between the two characters discussing religion. Skerrit is a god-fearing man, and Zevallos has lost her faith. It’s nice that their discussions about it never feel preachy, and you don’t feel like you stepped into some faith-based film.
As much as I enjoyed seeing Skerritt in a major role, this two-person story felt much like a play. It’s the same objection I had to Fences (Denzel Washington, Viola Davis).
Now, I loved how A River Runs Through It was also a love-letter to fly fishing. In this, I liked how in a small way, it’s a love letter to baseball. Listening to Skerritt talk about his Brooklyn Dodgers is just a joy. He listens to games on the radio, the way we imagine older baseball fans doing. It’s a joy seeing him watching a clip on Zevallos’ tablet. It’s from the ‘56 World Series he attended.
Obviously, we get to learn a lot more about these characters as they share Cuban food and stories about their lives. I wouldn’t dare think of spoiling that for you.
I was lucky enough to catch this at a screening in La Jolla. You’ll be lucky enough to catch it on Netflix, video on demand, and all the usual ways you can order movies online now.
2 ½ stars out of 5.