Phony baloney, but help me that I didn’t at least admire the fact that a “character study” movie was actually made in these franchise-tag times. Demolition doesn’t help itself though that the character study itself is phony baloney. It’s one of those movies where the guy beats up his own house in order to have one of those start over epiphanies, the kind of outpour of grandiose behavior that no one sane in real life ever does. The scene in “Office Space” where three former employees beat up a printer with bats to belt out their frustration makes sense. Our guy here, Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal), who loses his wife in the first scene and from there goes on a redemptive journey of renewed self-discovery, does things in this movie that cries out insanity.
If only this movie honestly questioned the character’s sanity. No, “Demolition” is one of those suburban yuppie tearjerkers where the guy does a lot of eccentric things to test the limits of our rigid world, including hitting up an unhappy woman (Naomi Watts) who works in the vending machine services complaint department, until she reluctantly befriends him. Or getting shot at while wearing a bulletproof vest. Breaking tile. Breaking windows. If Davis truly went wild, he’d check out Jeff Bridges’ behavior in “Fearless” (1993) to get some pointers.
Significant to the movie is Chris Cooper as his father-in-law Phil, who also got Davis a well-heeled position at a financial firm. There is a long-forming dissidence between them, and you wait until the end to hear what the two of them really have on their minds. Yet Davis charges forth with such disrespect at him, you wonder why Phil doesn’t chuck Davis out of the life earlier. I didn’t believe in “Demolition,” but I stayed with it out of curiosity to see where it would go. Gyllenhaal, by the way, gave a performance for the ages in “Nightcrawler” recently, but here he’s really sappy at heart.
Directed by Jean Marc-Vallee, whose other films “Dallas Buyer’s Club” and “Wild” were honestly felt humanist pieces.
100 Minutes. Rated R.
DRAMA / CHARACTER STUDY / FALL FROM GRACE MOVIE