Hunky-dory and adequate, no more and no less. Darling Companion is referring to the pet dog who gets lost in the Rockies in the aftermath of their daughter’s wedding. Two middle-aged spouses spar, then make-up and rib each other banally, if mildly, while on search for their canine in the woods for the rest of the time. Yes, this one of the increasingly rare Mild & Charming Movies absent of any cynicism or vulgarity. It has a pleasant enough air to it, easy to watch, a cast of identifiable characters. But there’s something missing, and it’s not compelling enough to get me to fully recommend it.
Kevin Kline was always a favorite actor of mine growing up, but it has become increasingly distressing in recent years seeing his talent squandered, and basically not living up to his worth (“No Strings Attached” was last year’s second worst film; “Trade” was a nice try but simply exploitation). I admit that I rejoiced that Kline has a Kline-esque role as a revered surgeon with rascally humor. He brought a smile to my face.
Diane Keaton is gritting her teeth again as the mom with generalized anxiety disorder, or whatever you want to call her whining. She is meant to irritate us, like she did in “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003) or “The Family Stone” (2005), and nearly becomes the only blotch of cynicism in this film. Elizabeth Moss (TV’s “Mad Men”) is her rosy daughter who gets married in the Rockies at the beginning of the film, before she disappears onto her honeymoon (she shows up again, via cell phone, at the end).
Mark Duplass (TV’s “The League,” “Safety Not Guaranteed”) is one of the oddest ordinary joe guys in the movies and television right now. He can be rude or he can play meek and modest. I’m glad to watch him grow as a indie improv-like performer. Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor”) is the sincere, if feckless, older gentleman also a part of the family. Jenkins is the master at making middle-aged geeks into smiling chaps you almost adore despite their social awkwardness.
I do tremendously admire Lawrence Kasdan as well, the one-time “Star Wars: Episodes 5 and 6” and “Indiana Jones” screenwriter turned director. “Body Heat (1981) was his critically acclaimed directing debut, a sultry sexy thriller. “The Accidental Tourist” (1988) was a superb grown-up dramedy. The cross-cultural conflicts of contemporary Los Angeles as depicted in “Grand Canyon” (1991) is his masterpiece. “Mumford” (1999) is for the most part a great dramedy with inspirational uplift.
I was hoping “Darling” would be in the same vein, and it is sort of in a similar light-hearted and winsome spirit of Kasdan’s work, but it’s just not as good. It just kind of muzzles you a bit like little comfort couch kisses, then rolls over and falls asleep.
103 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
COMEDY / ADULT ORIENTATION / MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY BREEZY MOVIE
Film Cousins: “The Big Chill” (1983); “Mumford” (1999); “The Station Agent” (2003); “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” (2012).