❉ If you’re a fan of Burt Reynolds’ work, this little gem will remind you why he was such a dominating box-office force for so many years, writes Nick Clement.
“The meta-quality of The Last Movie Star put a huge smile on my face, and the clever way that Rifkin spliced-in footage from real movies that Reynolds starred in during his heyday is just one of the many pleasures this genial film affords.”
The Last Movie Star, which was written and directed with serious love and affection for its leading man by eclectic filmmaker Adam Rifkin (Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy), showcases Burt Reynolds in the sort of commenting-on-your-career role that I’m sure he felt honored to have been offered. I absolutely loved this movie, as it took me by surprise in terms of the trajectory of its narrative, and it was a joy to see Reynolds with a substantial role which allowed his inner screen magnetism to still shine – he may look his age but you can still see that youthful twinkle in his eyes despite the many wrinkles that surround them. There’s an air of melancholy that hangs over this film, and yet, all of it manages to remain playful and exceedingly entertaining.
And if you’re a fan of Reynolds’ work from years past, this heartfelt little gem will remind you of the classics that he starred in, and why he was such a dominating box-office force for so many years. A true movie star never loses that touch, no matter how many clunkers they might have appeared in; that luster remains because the individual is incapable of not radiating it. This is the Power of Burt. When Reynolds was in his prime, there was no bigger draw at the cinemas, and the wild and woolly resume he built up over the years serves to inspire this ode to his eternal stardom. And with the camera studying the decades that have registered in his face, the entire film carries a particular sense of weight that it might not otherwise have had.
Reynolds plays Vic Edwards, an aging silver-screen icon who one day receives an invitation to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Nashville Film Festival. His goofy agent (Chevy Chase!) tells him he’s insane not to go and be the center of attention one last time, so Edwards sets off to be feted, only to discover that the festival organizers are a group of twentysomething film geeks who, despite their honest love for Vic, can’t really deliver on their promises. The story then segues into a fun buddy/road-trip scenario where Vic is joined by the sister (Ariel Winter) of one of the festival organizers (Clark Duke, hilarious as usual) as he takes a trip down memory lane. On more than one occasion I shed some tears with this one; just wait until Vic visits his childhood home.
The bulk of the film rests on the excellent chemistry between Reynolds and Winter as her character’s personal struggles become a launching pad for her and Vic to grow closer as a pair of unlikely friends. And of course, Vic gets to reminisce about his life and all of the various decisions he’s made that have led up to the present. It’s all very funny, touching in the right spots, and Rifkin’s sense of cinema history as well as his visual interest in Reynolds’ aged face gives the film a sense of vitality. The meta-quality of The Last Movie Star put a huge smile on my face, and the clever way that Rifkin spliced-in footage from real movies that Reynolds starred in during his heyday is just one of the many pleasures this genial film affords.
Shot with low-key naturalism by cinematographer Scott Winig, the film benefits from snappy editing by Daniel Flesher, which when combined with Rifkin’s economical screenplay, results in a film that hits its beats without adding anything unnecessary or distracting. Some of Rifkin’s other credits include co-writing Joe Dante’s rather awesome talking-toy epic Small Soldiers; writing Gore Verbinski’s subversive “kid’s film” Mousehunt; writing/directing the KISS cult-classic Detroit Rock City; and writing/directing the action-comedy-romance The Chase, with Charlie Sheen and Kristie Swanson. And interesting to note – there are 31 credited producers listed at the IMDB for this film, which indicates just how much work goes into getting small, labors of love like this made in our current cinematic landscape.
❉ Directed by Adam Rifkin and starring Burt Reynolds, Chevy Chase, Ariel Winter, Clark Duke and Ellar Coltrane, ‘The Last Movie Star’ arrives exclusively on-demand and download on 20 August 2018. Distributor: Second Sight. Cat.No.: 2NDBR4084. Cert: 15. Running Time: 100 mins approx.
❉ Nick Clement is a freelance writer, having contributed to Variety Magazine, Hollywood- Elsewhere, Awards Daily, Back to the Movies, and Taste of Cinema. He’s currently writing a book about the works of filmmaker Tony Scott.
❉ He is also a regular contributor for MovieViral.com, a site dedicated to providing the best news and analysis on viral marketing and ARG campaigns for films and other forms of entertainment.