There are some movies that do not add up to the sum of their parts. Solitary Man is one of those films. The acting is great. Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Mary-Louise Parker and especially Danny Devito all do their best. The script has some fine dialogue, and the cinematography is top notch. But it just isn’t a great film.

The main problem is that the central character Ben Kalmen played by Douglas is not all that compelling to watch. Ben is a 60-year-old former car dealer who lost his business when he was convicted of some shady dealing. He wasn’t just any car salesman; he was a VERY rich and famous magnate who was riding high before he decided to cook the books. As we meet him, Ben is working on making a comeback. He’s divorced from his wife (Sarandon) and dating a woman (Parker) who has the connections to get him back in the saddle. Only Ben has a problem keeping it in his pants and (oops! my bad) sleeps with his girlfriend’s daughter when he escorts her on a college visit. She then uses his indiscretion to hurt mommy and sinks all those hot business opportunities for poor mid-life crisis Ben.

Ben’s relationship with his daughter is also on shaky ground and only gets shakier when he sleeps with the mother of one of her son’s friends and misses his grandson’s birthday party.

Having nowhere to turn, evicted, with no one to take him in, Ben gets a job in a diner run by his old friend Jimmy and you think maybe here with this salt of the earth buddy he can get it together, but he doesn’t. And this is the major problem with the story. Ben is unrepentant. He may hit bottom, but he never seems to learn anything or care if everyone thinks he is an ass.

I’d say go see Solitary Man if you are in a relationship with a middle aged man who is cheating on you or if you are a man having a mid-life crisis. Otherwise, watch it on a plane.

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