Film fails as ro­mance, love let­ter or life les­son

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - Broward - - MOVIES - By Glenn Whipp

Allan Loeb has writ­ten a dozen movies since break­ing through a decade ago with the for­mu­laic re­cov­ery drama “Things We Lost in the Fire.”

Loeb’s lat­est, an un­con­vinc­ing com­ing-of-age tale, “The Only Liv­ing Boy in New York,” was one of the first screen­plays he wrote, many years ago. And given Hol­ly­wood’s pen­chant for buy­ing his projects — Loeb’s re­sume in­cludes last year’s mawk­ish Will Smith ve­hi­cle “Col­lat­eral Beauty” and the sour Adam San­dler com­edy “Just Go With It” — it won’t be his last.

The movies them­selves — and this in­cludes “Only Liv­ing Boy” — of­ten fea­ture a third act twist and are of­ten ei­ther in­dif­fer­ent to women or treat them in a man­ner Rat­ing: R (for lan­guage and some drug ma­te­rial) Run­ning time: 1:28 that can come across as puerile.

“Only Liv­ing Boy,” set in present-day New York, tells the story of an in­suf­fer­able, priv­i­leged young man (Cal­lum Turner) who dis­cov­ers his dis­tant, de­mand­ing fa­ther (Pierce Bros­nan) is cheat­ing on his emo­tion­ally frag­ile mother (Cyn­thia Nixon) with a beau­ti­ful, mys­te­ri­ous (i.e., she’s a ci­pher) woman named Jo­hanna (Kate Beck­in­sale).

Yes, that woman’s name means a char­ac­ter, a life­les­son- dis­pens­ing, al­co­holic writer played by the great Jeff Bridges, will keep re­peat­ing “vi­sions of Jo­hanna” over and over again un­til di­rec­tor Marc Webb (“The Amaz­ing Spi­derMan”) re­lents and un­leashes the Bob Dy­lan song of the same name. (Worst use of Dy­lan since that Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret ad.)

“Only Liv­ing Boy” fails to con­vince as a char­ac­ter study, ro­mance or love let­ter to the CBGB-era New York City. It drops a plot bomb­shell close to the end of its 88-minute run­ning time, but the film­mak­ers haven’t laid the track to make it plau­si­ble.

“SoulCy­cle is the only soul this city has left,” Thomas whines early on, putting down 21st cen­tury Man­hat­tan. But even Richard Nixon has got soul, a wise man once sang. Even “The Only Liv­ing Boy in New York,” too, though as was the case with Tricky Dick, you have to look hard to find it.

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