A property condemned
It is hard to extract much of a high old time from a production like 5 Flights Up when the stakes involved are so exceedingly low.
Will ageing married couple Alex (Morgan Freeman) and Ruth (Diane Keaton) sell their million-dollar Brooklyn apartment in time to whack their money down on that milliondollar Manhattan crash-pad they’ve been eyeing off?
And if that ain’t enough, will their elderly pet pooch Dorothy — even older than its owners in dog-years — return to her adorable tail-wagging ways after a big operation on her arthritic little legs?
Yes, the care factor when it comes to 5 Flights Up is maddeningly mild.
In fact, there hasn’t been a movie so comprehensively uninvolving since 2008’s Flash
Of Genius, a baffling biopic of (I’m not making this up) the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper.
To be fair, the inanity and inertia running rampant in
5 Flights Up would be almost forgivable if a smidgen of casting chemistry could have been captured while the cameras rolled.
To be blunt, it is almost impossible to buy into Freeman and Keaton as convincingly cuddlesome soulmates.
While it is refreshing to see an interracial couple presented so matter-of-factly on screen — Hollywood still has a lot of ground to make up on this front — the lack of a credible connection between the two lead actors kills any chance of a winning outcome here.
When he isn’t contractually bound to chip in with his trademarked voice-of-God narration, Freeman’s job here is to shake his head, twinkle an eye and make a bemused comment about how crazy the NYC real estate scene can be.
His polite, seen-it-all-before pessimism is cornily countered by Keaton’s chipper, never-seen-that-before reactions to everything happening around her.
It is hard to believe two people like this would ever find themselves in the same room for five minutes, let alone a marriage that has lasted 40 years plus change.
So with Alex (the goodnatured grizzly bear of this tale) effectively cancelled out by Ruth (going all fluffy bunnies at the drop of the hat), there is more dead air in this movie than an un-tuned radio.
The flashbacks to when Alex first met Ruth — and plenty of irritating interjections from Cynthia Nixon as the vendors’ zany sales agent — ensures everything remains static.