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Despite star power, ‘Fall Guy,’ ‘Idea of You’ stumble – Play It Again, Tim

The Fall Guy
Written by Tim Miller

“The Fall Guy” (PG-13, 126 minutes, in theaters) wore me out.

It starts out great, thanks to its charming stars – Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt – and lots of funny bits. But, this is about a stuntman, and at a certain point the action sequences take over and don’t let up. By the end, I was tired – and not in a good way.

If only someone at some point said to director David Leitch (“John Wick,” “Atomic Blonde,” “Deadpool 2”), “OK, stop. Just stop.” Leitch is a stuntman himself (doubling for the likes of Brad Pitt and Matt Damon), so maybe he just couldn’t help himself. His big-screen version of the Lee Majors TV action show from the ‘80s checks in at 126 minutes, about 30 too many. And it’s all because Leitch stops taking advantage of the Gosling-Blunt chemistry and goes on and on – and on – with the action.

The Fall Guy

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt star in “The Fall Guy.” (Universal Pictures)

Gosling plays Colt Seavers, a successful movie stunt double for egotistical, insecure action star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Colt suffers a severe injury on the set, and drops out of sight for a year, having decided his career is over. He’s persuaded to go back to stunt work, however, by fast-talking producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) when she tells him his ex-girlfriend, Jody Moreno (Blunt), desperately needs him for her directorial debut. So off he goes to Australia to double for Ryder during the shooting of Jody’s sci-fi epic adventure “Metalstorm,” promoted as “‘High Noon’ on the edge of the universe.”

Back on the set, Colt tries to win back Jody, who feels he ghosted her after his injury. (One of the funniest shots is when an actor in an alien costume nods sympathetically as Colt makes his case to Jody during a break in filming.) Meanwhile, Ryder disappears, and producer Meyer tells Colt that it’s up to him to find the star – to save the film and Jody’s career. Colt takes the bait and gets involved in a plot involving very bad people.

So far, so good, with everything clicking. Gosling and Blunt are winning in their scenes together, like the one in which Jody teases Colt after catching him sitting alone with tears in his eyes while listening to Taylor Swift. The stars look like they’re having fun – and it’s infectious. I hope they’re paired in more movies.

Taylor-Johnson, meanwhile, delivers laughs in support as Ryder, a spoiled star who acts as if he’s the one performing the scary stunts.

But then things gradually go downhill, as character and story give way to chases, crashes, explosions and so forth.

I have to admit that, as obnoxious as it might sound, I often think about star ratings as I watch a movie. With “The Fall Guy,” I went from four stars (“Wow, this movie is so ridiculously entertaining”) to 3½ (“Well, pretty entertaining”) to three (“The story’s losing its way, but I still love Gosling and Blunt”) to … **½ (out of four)

‘Idea’ falls short

“The Idea of You” (R, 115 minutes, on Prime Video) also fails to live up to its early promise.

Blunt’s “The Devil Wears Prada” co-star Anne Hathaway plays Solene Marchand, a 40-year-old, art gallery owner and single mom. Solene goes to Coachella with her teen daughter, Izzy (Ella Rubin), and Izzy’s friends; accidentally meets Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), a member of the popular boy-band August Moon (think One Direction), in his trailer; and romantic sparks fly.

Hayes is 24, though, and Solene is hyper-aware of their age difference. But this young Prince Charming is persistent, the heart wants what the heart wants, and they become an item. Solene even goes on tour with August Moon, though this is all supposedly done in secret (a bit of a stretch) to keep, among others, especially Izzy and Solene’s ex-husband (Reid Scott) in the dark. Predictably, word does get out about the romance, and complications ensue.

The Idea Of You

Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine in “The Idea of You.” (Prime Video)

(Let’s just stop here to state the obvious fact that age differences in movie romances have rarely been an issue when young women fall all over themselves for geezers, a societal hypocrisy noted in “The Idea of You.”)

Directed by Michael Showalter (“The Big Sick”) and adapted from the novel by Robinne Lee, this rom-com – or, more accurately, rom-dramedy – starts out well, and, like “The Fall Guy,” it’s mostly due to the appeal of the two leads. Hathaway quickly wins our sympathy as Solene while convincingly showing the character’s inner conflict between passion and practicality. Galitzine also is quite good as a teen idol who is more mature than his peers, yet still struggles at times, due to his youth, to grasp fully the needs of others.

Once the romantic situation and its obstacles are established is when the film starts to falter. OK, maybe this relationship is not going to work. Wait, maybe it will. Nope. Yep. The back and forth becomes contrived, and tiresome, as we wait for some kind of resolution. And, by that time, we’re not as invested in the result.

Ultimately, the film doesn’t quite work. But I’d still recommend it, with reservations, for Hathaway, just as I’d recommend “The Fall Guy,” with reservations, for Blunt and Gosling. **½

** Click here for  Tim Miller’s previous movie columns for Cape Cod Wave **

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Tim Miller

Tim Miller, Movie Critic

Tim Miller is co-president of the Boston Society of Film Critics and a Tomatometer-approved critic. He teaches film and journalism at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or follow him onTwitter @TimMillerCritic. Or you can ignore him completely.

About the author

Tim Miller

Tim Miller, a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics, was the Cape Cod Times film critic for nearly 36 years. A Detroit native (and hardcore Tigers fan), he’s been obsessed with movies since skipping school in 1962 to see “Lawrence of Arabia” with his parents when he was 7. Miller earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and his master’s from Suffolk University, where he taught film and journalism for 10 years. He continues to teach film at Curry College and Cape Cod Community College. He is a juror each year for the short-film competition of the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, has moderated several panel discussions at the Woods Hole Film Festival and frequently is heard as a guest on Cape & Islands NPR station WCAI. His work appeared as a chapter in the book “John Sayles: Interviews.” His favorite movie is Cameron Crowe's “Almost Famous” – because it makes him feel good to be alive.

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