“The Last Movie Star” is a smart, fresh take on stardom that left me nostalgic for the era of classic Hollywood. Reynolds’ Vic Edwards represents a pedigree of Hollywood that has long since faded with the popularity of reality stars and internet flash in the pans. A Hollywood fixture for decades, Reynolds’ translates his ups and downs to Vic Edwards with such ease, you lose yourself in the character as if Reynolds’ tragedies and triumphs weren’t public knowledge.
When first meeting Vic, we find a broken man faced with heartbreaking news – he has to put down his longtime companion, his trusty canine Squanto. We’re immediately drawn into a long life of love and loss through his tough decision to end his friend’s suffering. Upon his arrival at home we see he has nothing left within the walls but faded memories of a better life and ultimately he is alone. But, as things are looking down, Vic discovers he is being honored at a film festival near his hometown in Nashville, Tennessee.
Though skeptical at first, his old pal (Chevy Chase) convinces him to show up and collect the award in-person. Vic finds the accommodations for his travel and stay in Nashville far less than impressive. His fears are realized once he arrives at the festival, a small gathering to be held in the back of a bar. Vic’s frustration turns to anger, and bourbon, and the actor turned curmudgeon lashes out at the young fans Doug and Shane, played exceptionally by Clark Duke and Ellar Coltrane, respectively.
Begrudgingly along for the ride is Lil. Lil is portrayed by Ariel Winter in what should prove to be a breakout role for the promising young starlet. Pushing through years of her “Modern Family” image, Winter is stellar opposite Reynolds in the film. Her quick wit and cynicism match Reynolds’ been there, done that attitude pitch perfectly.
Reynolds and Winter embark on a journey around Edwards’ childhood hot-spots visiting his childhood home, college stomping grounds where he was once king, and everything between. Their chemistry is remarkable given the age difference. Reynolds’ is as old school as they come. Golden age of Hollywood all the way. But Winter’s ability to not only match intensity, but sometimes outshine the veteran, is an impressive feat and testimony of her talents.
The cast assembled for the film is nothing short of wonderful. Lead by Reynolds and Winter, Duke, Coltrane, Al-Jaleel Knox, Nikki Blonsky and Juston Street shine like we’ve never seen from each before.
Penned with love, director Adam Rifkin taps into the zeitgeist of past and present, forming a poetic, cautionary tale presented through the eyes of a weathered film star whose message is clear: Do good, be good.
Rifkin’s script is masterful in hiding a personal love letter to a childhood icon while parading itself as a multi-million dollar property loaded with stars.
“The Last Movie Star” is currently available on DirecTV and opens around the nation on March 30, 2018 from A24.