It always seemed to me that Larry David was like some snotty brother of Woody Allen. Both are members of the Jewish community, both New Yorkers, and both are mature as creators, with built-in on-screen personalities to whom they are very happy to return. In 2009, they even collaborated, recording the likable Whatever Works; it was weird to watch one of them, David, interpret a character specially created for the other. I appreciate Woody unusually, it’s a well-known thing, but I’ve known Larry for a long time, we’ve known each other since high school days and late-night Seinfeld episodes on one of our televisions, and we strengthened that acquaintance later, with the series Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which he starred. So, I admit, I entered watching this film with a boyish anticipation and great expectations.
In this film, backed by HBO, Larry plays Nathan Flom, a marketing visionary prominent in his industry; he works in a promising company where he is valued and even has a stake in shares. (The character is very reminiscent of the director of many episodes of Seinfeld, Larry Charles – mustache and giant beard, as well as a wavy mower that no hippie would be ashamed of.) When one day his boss decides to call the company’s new project, an electric car according to his son Howard, he sees it as an omission because he thinks it will be difficult for him to advertise and sell anything with such a name, so, without thinking about it, he resigns. Soon after, Howard achieved great success, earning billions, making poor Nathan the loser of the century.
Wherever he goes, he is recognized and ridiculed. His hair falls out, he shaves his mustache beard, so he retreats to an island where no one knows about his bad luck, changes his name and starts a new life: he becomes Raleigh, a good-natured, not overly conspicuous neighbor. Ten years later, when his former boss comes to the island and buys a large estate – Rollia is haunted by ghosts from the past, and he realizes it’s time to clear the bill.
Here, as in his series Curb Your Enthusiasm, David bases his action on causes and effects – almost every move of one character will find an echo in the further course of the story, sooner or later. The script is mostly improvised, which is another of his trademarks, and this way of working is, in my opinion, the best measure of the quality of the actor, and this cast, made up of former stars and currently famous people, works great, given the nature of filming , and it seems that the good old Larry in Danny McBride has found a strong partner for spontaneous pranks because together they give the impression that they are really friends for years and complement each other nicely.
Of the others, I would mention Michael Keaton when I haven’t watched it for a really long time and I just forgot how much this man is underestimated. His hands were free and he took advantage of that, perfectly painting Joe Stampo, over the top local who opposes the construction of a villa on his father’s former estate. Regular CurbYour Enthusiasm customers, such as J. B. Smoove (played by Leona in the series) and Philip Baker Hall (Dr. Morrison, Larry’s Doctor). Fans of the Mad Men series will be pleased with the fact that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) also appears in the film, and even Kate Hudson was up to the task, which, we remember, has not happened often since she appeared internationally in Almost Famous.
Music is also an interesting field of this film because the soundtrack is mostly made up of ultra-famous and unknown songs by Chicago whose members play themselves in the film, playing small but significant roles in one branch of the main plot. They go well with the atmosphere of the film dictated by Greg Mottola, who has secured another comic entry in filmography with solid directing.
All in all, David did not disappoint, but he did not exceed the standards he set in his serial projects. We simply can’t help but get the impression that we’re watching one more rural episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm in which Larry experiences a life without a mound of money left over from selling the rights to Seinfeld. In that spirit, it should be observed and valued – if we look at it that way. After all, this is not a film that will make you laugh forever, but it entertains and will not leave any true fan of Larry David’s character and work without a smile.