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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: The Extra Man

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January 07, 2011

Movie Review Friday: The Extra Man

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

The Extra Man (2010)

Available on DVD

After curiosity about women's underwear costs him a prep-school teaching job, aspiring playwright Louis Ives (Paul Dano) moves to New York City to reinvent himself as either a Gatsby-inspired gentleman or a cross-dresser. Louis receives tutelage in the former vocation from his eccentric roommate, Henry Harrison (Kevin Kline), a penniless would-be aristocrat who maintains a cultured lifestyle by escorting rich widows to society functions. When he's not visiting tranny bars or cultivating friendships with billionaires, Louis works at an environmental magazine, where he attempts to win the affection of his ubergreen, vegan co-worker Mary Powell (Katie Holmes).

The comedy, based on Jonathan Ames's 1998 novel, drags (no pun intended) when Kline is absent from the screen. While Dano's negotiations of new and awkward situations have comedic potential, most of the subplots fall flat. Particularly disappointing is the lack of humor surrounding the environmental-magazine job — a scene in which Mary catches Louis eating ribs plays like something out of a clichéd romantic comedy.

That aside, the movie is well worth watching just for the chance to meet the enigmatic Henry Harrison. Kline's hilarious portrayal of the fast-talking, high-class bum is the actor's finest performance in years.

--Della Watson

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