Friday, October 14, 2016

Lee Kirk's ORDINARY WORLD provides a not-so-hot showcase for Billie Joe Armstrong

Character stupidity is a tricky thing. It can be used -- usually is -- for humor in movies, but it's a double-edged sword. A little goes a very long way. Too much stupidity can produce impatience then outright weariness in an audience, and when a character proves inordinately stupid, identification and caring go out the window for good. So it is with ORDINARY WORLD and its main character, a complete idiot named Perry, in the new movie originally known as Geezer from writer/director Lee Kirk (the filmmaker is shown below).

Clearly conceived to be a kind of showcase for the talents of singer/ songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong (shown on poster, above, and often below), the movie presents its hero, Perry, as someone goofy, sweet, appealing -- and one of the all-out stupidest characters to hit the screen in a long, long while. The movie begins well, with a musical evening that takes place some 20 years ago and features a nice opening song (by Armstrong). It ends well, too, with the expected feel-good finale we've been waiting for. In between, however, Perry's behavior regarding his wife, his kids, his brother, his home and his work is near-totally irresponsible and reprehensible in the extreme. All this makes the movie's "happy ending" seem completely unearned.

Perry is having a mid-life crisis, it appears, having given up the musical career he so much wanted to settle down with wife and family. But how he handles all this is beyond the pale.

Mr. Armstrong would appear to be a talented performer with a charming screen presence. And Kirk surrounds him with with class talent on all sides -- Selma Blair (shown above, right), as his wife; Judy Greer as an old girl-friend who suddenly appears in his life; and Fred Armisen and Kevin Corrigan as his band-mates/best friends -- none of  whom possess anything more than cardboard characters.

In fact, the one character who comes across as the most interesting and believable is the highly put-upon hotel concierge (Brian Baumgartner, above, left) from whom our idiot hero rents the poshest suite in the hotel then goes on to behave about as stupidly as possible. Armstrong's Perry literally does not make a single correct decision for the film's entire running time -- until those last ten or fifteen minutes.

Armstrong deserves a better showcase, as do the rest of the fine cast (that includes the always excellent Chris Messina), and audiences deserve a better movie (such as Mr. Kirk's previous one, The Giant Mechanical Man). If you can tolerate Ordinary World for more than the three or four decent songs it offers, well, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

The movie opens today in New York City at the Village East Cinema and in Los Angeles at the Laemmle's Monica Film Center and simultaneously via VOD on all major platforms.

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