From director Paolo Pilladi comes Last Call starring Jeremy Piven of Entourage fame. One might think that if a film stars an actor with one Golden Globe and three Emmys under his belt for the aforementioned role alone, this might indicate a worthwhile cinematic experience. Unfortunately, one would be wrong in this case.
The premise of Last Call is simple enough: Mick (Jeremy Piven) returns home unexpectedly to his childhood neighbourhood in a small, close-knit town after a family emergency. He then finds himself extending his stay when faced with a significant work opportunity, one that rubs the town the wrong way. Many classic tropes exist in Last Call: the protagonist’s return to home after a long absence; strained interpersonal relationships as a result; a wizened father with a hard attitude from a lifetime of just getting by; a missed love connection; grappling with a decision that would benefit him but hurt the town. Added together, Last Call reads (falsely) like a family drama that centres on a financially successful protagonist who embarks on a meaningful journey of introspection and self-discovery.
Unfortunately, none of these tropes are thoughtfully executed or properly expounded upon. Last Call tries to do far too much with too little time, leaving some storylines dangling. It attempts to be a heartfelt tale of reconnection and virtuosity in a beaten-down, weathered small town, but falls flat. Scenes and sequences end abruptly with little to no smooth transition to the next scene, which starts examining a new situation or problem before moving onto another. The dialogue generally feels hastily-written and is full of clichés (“Pop, you know that if you need to find me, just email my assistant”), leaving situations and encounters boringly predictable.
Predictability in a film not meant to stimulate deep post-viewing thoughts and dialogues about the meaning of life is perfectly acceptable, but when the film as a whole gives a feeling of being quickly thrown together (how many times was the final edited version truly watched before being approved and released, and with whose critical eyes, this author wonders?), the predictability becomes sigh-inducing and eye-rolling, leaving little to no room for enjoyment.
The audience must simply assume that Piven was looking for a light script and simple acting exercise. The supporting cast is fine and does what they can with their lines and roles (which isn’t a lot), including Mick’s love interest, Ali (Taryn Manning); his wayward, law-dismissing brother, Dougal (Zach McGowan); old chum forever loyal to their small town, Whitey (Jamie Kennedy) and Mick and Dougal’s father, Laurence (Jack McGee). The greatest line deliveries come from the veteran actor Bruce Dern, playing a Coach who oddly spends his retirement years drinking with middle aged men who were presumably once students on his sports teams.
All in all, Last Call does not quite seem to know what kind of film it wants to be and, ultimately, became one that is scattered, oddly executed and unfortunately forgettable. A film to be watched if there is nearly nothing else to watch—one might even say it is to be watched only as a “last call”.
Comedy | USA, 2021 | 15 | Digital HD | 29th March 2021 (UK) | The Movie Partnership | Dir.Paolo Pilladi | Jeremy Piven, Bruce Dern, Taryn Manning, Jamie Kennedy, Cathy Moriarty, Jack McGee