Manglehorn

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Writer/director David Gordon Green blew me away with Snow Angels. When he did the comedy Pineapple Express, I wasn’t as impressed. The indie film Prince Avalanche bored me to tears, and this movie might bore some. I was intrigued watching Al Pacino dial it down to play lonely locksmith Angelo Manglehorn, a man with a lot of regrets in life.

Pacino has the perfect face for this role, and you’ll have sympathy for him the entire time. You’ll occasionally wonder why you feel for him.

Even cliché scenes, like the one in which he writes letters to a former lover, work well. The movie has so many moving, poetic scenes.

Angelo’s rich son Jacob (Chris Messina) is rather rude at a dinner they have, but you’re not quick to judge. Perhaps Angelo was a horrible father. We suspect he was. Yet listening to Pacino mention the good things he did as a father (walking him to school, coaching his little league team)…ends with, “You forget those things…when it’s convenient for you.”

So much of the dialogue is brilliant. It’s not over-the-top fights, but subtle comments like that. You’ll think of situations in your own family where similar conversations took place.

The second discussion these two actors have, late in the movie, ranks up there as one of the best scenes in a movie all year.

For those that saw Danny Collins, you can’t help but compare the two. A bad father wanting to redeem himself and spend time with a grandchild (Skylar Gasper); both characters are at an age where they should be retired and they’re not. They’re also courting…and although one of the scenes with Annette Bening was cute in DC, it’s nothing compared to Holly Hunter as the bank teller. She better snag an Oscar nomination for this because she stole the movie from Al.

When filmmakers try to have humorous date scenes, it’s always hit-or-miss. It’s certainly easier when the characters are older. Pacino can mutter about the prices being raised at a buffet…or we can laugh after his date leaves the table angrily…and he grabs some of her food. Why let that go to waste?

Even the way he compliments her is humorous. He tells her she has a fancy plate collection while glancing around her apartment and that she looks beautiful, “Like a racehorse.”

The way Manglehorn goes through life in his own head, not paying attention to what’s around him, is shot well. Sometimes you can hear what characters around him are saying, and other times it’s just a big blur.

When a young man he used to coach in little league shows up at the casino, you wish he couldn’t hear him. He’s one of those guys that wears gold chains, talks like a rapper, saying idiotic things and bragging about his business card (which shows him without a shirt, for a business called “Tan Man”).

How could I not root for a character that doesn’t like the food at a fancy restaurant and calls it pretentious? When his chocolate cake arrives he has the waiter take it back because he likes it “a la mode” and…”get that orange stuff off the plate.”

This little gem is at the Digital Gym in North Park, but won’t be for much longer.

It gets 3 ½ stars out of 5.

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