“Nobody played the role of movie star in the 1970s with more confidence than Burt Reynolds. Even as his choice of vehicles grew so indiscriminate as to gradually erode his box office appeal, he still radiated swagger, that ever-present smirk suggesting he — and we — knew it was all a put-on anyway.
“Perhaps the problem was that it was just too good an act: Burt Reynolds gave such excellent ‘Burt Reynolds’ on talk shows, in interviews and other forums that the public saw little point in continuing to fork out cash money to see him do the same thing in yet another mediocre, derivative big-screen comedy or thriller. He didn’t take enough risks, and the few times he did were misfires or weren’t appreciated enough. Few stars achieved such massive popularity while retaining a sense of unrealized potential.
“It’s a bittersweet legacy that writer-director Adam Rifkin aims to pay affectionate tribute to in The Last Movie Star (A24, 3.30) which has been retitled by U.S. distributor A24 after playing initial festival dates as Dog Years.
“Reynolds’ role as ailing, retired stuntman-turned-superstar-turned-recluse Vic Edwards was written for him, with plenty of biographical and in-joke details. But Rifkin, whose wildly uneven oeuvre has included some real dogs (Homo Erectus, The Dark Backward, The Nutt House), is not necessarily the right talent to pull off an autumnal love letter to a beloved, game performer.
“Rifkin makes an effort — as does his subject — but despite a few good moments, this well-intentioned seriocomedy mostly wobbles between crude yocks, lame generation-gap humor and sentimental cliche.” — from Dennis Harvey‘s 1.18.18 Variety review, filed from the Palm Springs Film Festival.