It could have been 3,600,600 chicken McNuggets, 4,301,075 mini purell hand santitziers, or 923,787 chipmunk digipets (they still make those), but 12 millions dollars went into the “Darling Companion.” This review is going to be unfair, for I mentally checked out countless times and started thinking about how I would have to land to die when I decide to jump off the balcony.
“Darling Companion” premiered at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and the theater attendance was about two thousand. The Pixar short “La Luna” played before the screening, which was unfortunate for the “Daling Companion,” because that raised the bar incredibly high. I always assumed audiences at film festivals were a little bit more forgiving for they are in the same room as the filmmakers. In fact, Kevin Kline, Diane Keaton, and Lawrence Kadan (writer director) were all present. Lawrence Kasdan said a few words before the screening and explained that this was co-written by him and his wife. With all this build up, the crowd was exceedingly excited.
“Darling Companion” is the story of a husband and wife trying to find their lost dog, Freeway. Beth (Diane Keaton) found Freeway on the freeway (get it) and decided to adopt him. Joseph (Kevin Kline) wasn’t too thrilled by the idea, but he begrudgingly accepts Freeway as apart of the family. One day, Joseph loses the dog on a walk through the woods and Beth is beyond furious. The rest of the movie is Beth, Jospeh, his sister Penny (Dianne Wiest), her boyfriend Russell (Richard Jenkins), Joseph’s nephew Bryan (Mark Duplass), Sheriff Morris (Sam Shepard), and a random gypsy named Carmen (Ayelet Zurer) looking for Freeway. I don’t actually this is a bad setup for a feel good comedy, but the experience was just as much fun as mowing an uphill lawn.
This paragraph is usually reserved for a more in depth look at the plot, but there isn’t really anything else to talk about. It’s people looking for a dog. The characters may have had a few realization for the better, but nothing substantial enough to be considered an arc. So, I’m not sure what to write here. Bryan ignores his offscreen girlfriend and starts to talk about marrying Carmen? So I guess Bryan’s a jerk. Russell’s going to open up an English pub? That’s something I guess.
Every aspect of this film is lackluster. The script feels like a first draft, the actors seemed disinterested, the cinematography just recorded the scenes, and the direction was passionless. The cast and crew of “Darling Companion” are incredibly talented people. Kadan wrote “Empire Strikes Back” for god’s sake. This movie isn’t poorly made, it was just lacking in any form of passion.
I am not the target audience for this film, but I was surrounded by its target audience. The crowd seemed to give it mix reactions as there was a fair amount of audience participation, but then about two thirds of the audience ran out of the theater when the movie faded to black.
For me, this is the worst kind of movie. It’s a film devoid of purpose. If the people making the movie are not 100% percent behind their project, donate the budget to charity. If they don’t want to donate it, find another project with passionate folks that want to make something credible. They exist. Someone just wrote the greatest script ever written and is looking for a producer with a clear vision to help create one of the finest films ever made. I would like to see that movie, but I never will. You know why? Because “Darling Companion” was made.
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