Well, I finally saw two of the upscale movies of the summer. Neither was that great.

Michael Douglas is the star of A SOLITARY MAN, which is nowhere near as good as A SINGLE MAN or A SERIOUS MAN. Douglas basically plays the same guy he played in WALL STREET and WONDER BOYS—a glib and brilliant womanizing sociopath. He gets himself, once again, in big trouble, as all his women dump him in response to his honestly expressed Randian rational egoism when it comes to sex and his irrational criminality when it comes to business. This time his sociopathic behavior is not congenital. It’s an extreme version of an aging man’s manly denial of death. The film’s message is a warning to men about their happiness, in truth, being wrapped up in their responsibilities as loving parents and spouses. It doesn’t quite work because Douglas—and a precocious teenager who’s even more Randian when it comes to sexual pleasure—turn out to be the interesting and most erotic characters in the film. Overall: sort of boring and pretty darn implausible.

I happily went to CYRUS thinking it would be an aimably hilarious gross-out movie. The slapstick conflict between John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill—both very funny guys—would have me rolling. And Marisa Tomei would surely be the perfect straight woman. There is, in fact, a little slapstick, but not much. It is a serious movie about the triumph of love over the somewhat dysfunctional loneliness of three good people—an unwillingly divorced guy, a single mom with a single son, and a smart but very strange grown son almost morbidly dependent on the mom. So the movie was sort of sweet, and single moms, I suspect, will tear up in a good way. And the son finally making room at home for the lonely guy to make his mom happy is very touching. But CYRUS, too, suffers from basic implausibility—like Marisa Tomei being twenty years between dates.

Both of these movies, in an odd way, is a more of a chick flick than the trailer would suggest. Not that that’s altogether a bad thing.

So, for me, the best movie of the summer remains PLEASE GIVE, with GET HIM TO THE GREEK still a fairly distant second.

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