New on DVD: Diminished Capacity

Actors can only bring so much to a film but it is up to the director to bring all the elements together.

Cooper (Matthew Broderick) suffered a significant head injury at the hands of a co-worker (Louis C.K.), who now pesters him with attempts at making amends. Cooper’s career is slowly going down the drain, followed by his loved ones, as his injury leaves him with a sketchy memory and hinders his ability to concentrate. At the behest of his mother, Cooper returns home from Chicago to rural Illinois to try to convince his more forgetful Uncle Rollie (Alan Alda) to move to a retirement home. Upon returning, he also discovers his high school sweetheart Charlotte (Virginia Madsen) is newly single. When Rollie reveals he is the owner of a rare Frank Schulte baseball card and is interested in selling, the group heads back to Chicago for a card collector’s convention. There, the inept pair tries to ensure they gain a fair price for the card and avoid swindlers (Bobby Cannavale) willing to take advantage of their disabilities.

Each of the actors appears to have been left to their own devices during shooting. Even though they are incredibly capable, it is the director’s duty to ensure a fluid performance is gained from each contributor. Here, first-time feature director and long-time actor Terry Kinney drops the ball. The actors often appear stranded in scenes. On the other hand, Kinney does appear comfortable with the material and is able to move the action along smoothly.

The comedy-drama is a series of episodic events, tracking a string of setbacks in new locations. Unluckily, the sitcom style and gathering of eccentric characters points to an unfair comparison with the indie sensation Little Miss Sunshine. In addition, to its benefit or not, the movie fails to take a serious look at Alzheimer’s or head trauma, treating the topic rather lightheartedly.

There are no DVD bonus features to evaluate.

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