The Extra Man is one of those films I just threw in and said, “NOW ENTERTAIN ME MYSTERIOUS MOVIE!”. I tend to yell at inanimate things. Less feelings are hurt.
What I didn’t know was how weirdly unique everything about this movie would be. Hooray!
Take it all in. Slowly, while everything seems normal.
The movie begins with one Louis (Paul Dano) teaching at a small college literature. Kind of guy who loves the Great Gatsby, and novels from the 20s. Generally loves everything from that period, and wishes he could live there. Even wishes he had nonchalant narrators narrating his life, and often thinks of it. Well, due to downsizing he no longer has his job, and probably has nothing to do with the fact that he was trying on another professors bra.
So a guy has an urge to wear women clothing on occasion, surely that isn’t a big deal? He decides the need to find himself, he answers an add for a room with a cantankerous older gentleman, Henry Harrison (Kevin Kline) who is very proper and sophisticated. He also is an “Extra man”, or someone who accompanies older women on nights out on the town, like a prostitute, without the sex. Speaking of sex, no weird sex stuff goes on his place, it would not be appropriate. He also meets one of the neighbors, Gershon Gruen (John C. Reilly) who helps “lift things” and is very secretive.
Louis ends up getting a job working for an environmentalist magazine, pretending to be very green and environmentally friendly, thanks to the boss man (John Pankow), and is happy to find a very cute vegan coworker (Katie Holmes) who is seeing an activist. Damn it.
But during all this, Louis is learning the city through his roommate, and learning a lot more than he thought possible. He even dreams of one day also being an Extra Man, so that he can experience the lash and luxuries that he just seems so naturally suited for, including seducing one of the richest, Vivian (Marian Seldes) and meeting women of a similar position (Celia Weston).
So can he be a successful gentleman? Or will he continue to explore his fascination with lady garments? Or will he change himself completely for a VEGAN?
He is more human when he sings.
So a lot is going on in this movie, told from the point of view of Louis, despite being a book about the Henry. Hey, whatever, I don’t care ’bout no book.
I was finding it all incredibly interesting, despite not knowing what the heck was the end game. But I thought the film lost a bit of steam as it tried to end. Some plot lines dropped quickly, and I wanted them to be more explored more, damn it. Something about it, just made me a bit disappointed. If the ending was a bit better, it’d be a 3 for sure.
2 out of 4.