Is Anybody There?

Here it is, venture number one into the world of Walking Taco film reviews. I will try not to disappoint.

From time to time there are smaller films, usually produced in a foreign market, that just capture my interest with a trailer. I find myself inexplicably drawn toward them, and when I find them at the local video store, I end up picking up a copy to see if all the mental hype I gave the film was worth it after all. This was one of those films.

Is Anybody There? stars the indomitably pouty-sounding Michael Caine as an aging magician who has recently been admitted to a retirement home to begin the slow descent into senility. While there, he’s befriended by a boy whose family runs the home, played by Bill Milner, only notably recognized for his role in the film Son of Rambow, but who does a fine job playing opposite of an Oscar Winner. The only other actor of notoriety is Rosemary Harris, who plays a bit part as one of the retirement residents, but is most well-known for her portrayal of Aunt May in the Spider-man movies.

I wanted to like this movie. All the reviews herald Caine’s performance as one of the best of his career. (Mind you we should all realize that reviews must be taken with a grain of salt… says the guy writing a review on a film review website.) I did think Caine did well with the role, so at least I can see why all the positive press focused around that. But the film itself seemed to lose a lot of the uplifting heart that shows up in the trailer. The fun seems to bleed away to be replaced with a much more bleak view in the pursuit of some form of an authentic realism.

Michael Caine and Bill Milner seem to ponder - wasn't this supposed to be some kind of unlikely-buddy film?

Instead of cherishing the brilliant moments of watching an elderly magician taking a socially awkward boy under his wing to bring him out of his shell, we’re focused on the depressing instability and grim ending we all face in our lives all of which gets more and more rushed by the end of the film. (No spoiler there, the film is about old people who go to a retirement home to die. That’s presented in the opening minutes of the film.)

Like I said, I wanted to like this film, and ultimately I enjoyed the performances, but thought the film focused too much on the down side of things to really leave the audience with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. If this one comes up on TV (doubt it will) or you feel like taking in a few good performances through your Netflix, give it a shot, but otherwise check out Caine in Inception when it comes out, and call yourself good.

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  1. When I was a kid one of my favorite movies was *batteries not included. I thought it was all about cutesy little flying robots and stuff. Then I watched it again about 5 years ago, and realized the entire film was basically a chronicle of the bitter process of aging and one old woman’s increasing dementia. It really bummed me out, partly because my own grandparents are in their 80’s and still very active in their community. Watching movies like Is Anybody There might be good from a performance standpoint, but it sounds like it wouldn’t exactly be an enjoyable experience.

  2. Congrats on your first walkingtaco review, I quite enjoyed it! I appreciate when reviewers separate the acting performances from the overall experience of the movie. I find some movies can have poor acting, but a great experience (mostly action films) while others can have solid performances, but ultimately disappoint. Thanks for the review and I look forward to your future posts!

  3. Movie Seal says:

    Welcome to the WT.

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