August 27, 2018 An Actor Prepares (Movie Review)
Audiences can prepare for An Actor Prepares, set for release on Friday, August 31, 2018 in theaters, VOD and Digital HD via Gravitas Ventures. They can brace themselves for a story written by Director Steve Clark (The Last International Playboy 2008, Night Has Settled 2014) and Thomas Moffett (Shrink 2009, Shrink Test 2010). Not to mention it being a Drama-Comedy featuring Jeremy Irons (Dead Ringers 1988, Dungeons & Dragons 2000), Jack Huston (Outlander 2008, Kill Your Darlings 2013), and Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket 1987, The Dark Knight Rises 2012). Can they handle what it is about?
Most likely, yes. It is not exactly a hardcore film with a heavy subject. If anything, it is a fairly familiar tale. It is an interesting one. Following a heart attack, Atticus Smith (Irons) – a top actor and top drinker – must drive across the US to make it in time for his daughter Annabelle’s (Mamie Gummer: The Ward 2010, Side Effects 2013) wedding. His only hope of making it lies in his estranged son, Adam (Huston). Will they be able to make it in time? Will they learn more about each other along the way?
So, an odd couple try to make things even as they travel cross-country, albeit not without a few clashes. It also establishes the characters and their motivations rather quickly too. Huston is the straight man to Irons’ comic, and the two waste no time in clashing once they are brought together. They have good chemistry, showing barely-concealed frustration with each other, but feeling duty-bound to stick together. It makes for entertaining results. Irons’ Smith is hilarious, yet his boorish attitude makes one sympathize with Huston’s character.
It makes a fine contrast to recently released Drama-Comedy Dr Brinks & Dr Brinks, in that this film leans more on the comedy while the other leant more towards drama. An Actor Prepares tinges its drama through references to past events – why the father and son cannot get along, why the son still loves the father regardless, why the wedding is so important, etc. Dr Brinks & Dr Brinks is a heavy film about carrying a lot of heavy baggage. An Actor Prepares sticks the baggage in the trunk and races through the barbs and bon mots. Then they bring it out every so often to add some bite between the gags.
When it is not Adam and Smith trying to get along, it is Adam dealing with his own subplot with his partner Clementine (Megalyn Echikunwoke: That 70’s Show series, House of Lies 2012). It is woven in rather nicely with the main plot, as it gives Huston’s character a little more to work with. He has his own secrets to come to terms with, aside from his shared past with his dad. It adds a touch more ground that helps spice up proceedings beyond the jokes.
There are some good funny moments in there. The best hits are those based around Huston and Irons’ characters, the drama, etc. It has its misses, and they tend to be stock gags. The wacky old man antics stray close to Bad Grandpa territory, with the lecherous looks, trip-outs, butt shots, etc. They do not drag the film’s pace down, and they are not exactly out of place either. Smith is more Peter O’Toole than Laurence Olivier after all. Ultimately, they get more groans than chuckles.
Luckily the hits are worth the misses, and the drama is relatable and engaging. Irons and Huston stand out amongst a cast of well-done performances. The film is shot well too, with no real faults in editing, composition, etc. It all works out with a smooth run of a bumpy ride. There may be some hurr-durrs with the ha-ha’s, but those ha-ha’s, along with the touching story, make it worth seeing. Thus, for these reasons, CrypticRock gives An Actor Prepares 4.5 out of 5 stars.