Volume 20, Number 38 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | September 8 - 14, 2010
Koch on Film
By Ed Koch
“The Extra Man” (-)
This picture could have been a real romp and lots of fun. Instead, I found it pretentious, overrated and over the top.
The story is very simple and inane. A young man from New Jersey, Louis Ives (Paul Dano), has lost his job at a prep school. Louis is uncertain about his sexual orientation and occasionally engages in cross-dressing. He moves to Manhattan and rents a room in the apartment of Henry Harrison (Kevin Kline) — a much older man.
Henry is defined as an “extra man,” available to escort women — generally much older women (no intimacy is involved.) He loves the meals they buy, attending their social functions and sneaking into the Metropolitan Opera. Henry shows Louis the tricks of the trade and lines up occasional dates for him.
Adding to the slapstick aspects of the film is the role of another tenant in the building, Gershon (John C. Reilly) — who looks like a vagrant with a shaggy beard and unkempt hair and clothing. Reilly constantly speaks in falsetto and is simply ridiculous. Kevin Kline is a fine actor with an enormous range, but he blew it with his shtick in this movie.
The entire film is absurd, with the exception of two performances: Paul Dano is excellent — and Marian Seldes (in the role of Vivian, an old moneyed woman who uses Henry as her escort) is superb.
Avoid this picture, which I saw at the Cinema Village (on East 12th St.).
NOTE: This film is no longer playing at area cinemas. We recommend you skip it upon its unfortunate, but inevitable, release on DVD.