Does A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III triumphantly signal the return of Charlie Sheen, or does it need more time in rehab?
Some films should never be made - we all have our lists of head-scratchers and films we've almost walked out on. Sadly, a new year brings new candidates; and while A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III isn't 2012's That's My Boy or Cloud Atlas, it's pretty darn close.
Charlie Sheen (Platoon) plays the titular Swan, a 1970's LA graphic designer whose life is thrown for a loop when his girlfriend Ivana (Katheryn Winnick, Love and Other Drugs) leaves him after finding a drawer full of pictures of his past conquests. A party animal and womanizer, Swan probably had this coming, since most of his brain power is dedicated to women and sex. While trying to dispose a bag of her shoes by throwing them down a hill, Charlie somehow ends up in the hospital after crashing his vintage car into a backyard pool. These events aren't necessarily hilarious, but they'll give you a nice chuckle to witness them being played out. As Swan's life begins to spin downward, his Jewish comedic friend Kirby (Jason Schwartzman, Rushmore), his business manager Saul (Bill Murray, Moonrise Kingdom) and his hippie novelist sister, Izzy (Patricia Arquette, Stigmata) try to set him straight. But it's Swan who has to do this, and the redemption journey is both chaotic and hard to follow.
An oddball mix of semi-funny skits and a mostly wandering script that resolves itself far too soon, Glimpse doesn't spend too long doing anything in particular, which I suppose is part of its DNA. But the final product is so thin on story and emotion that we're never really a part of things. Sometimes that kind of detachment is good and even necessary; for a dramedy that requires us to actually like the characters, Glimpse is nothing more than that. The blame for this massive error cannot be placed on any one person's shoulders, but let's heap a lot on Writer/Director Roman Copola (CQ), who doesn't get the best out of his actors, even though it's his own story. Considering his resume includes co-writing credit for Moonrise Kingdom, one should have hoped for more convincing or at least better produced. Sheen has emerged from his self-destructive train ride a lesser actor, one who is now better suited for 30-minute television than first-run movies like Wall Street. But he's just a part of an acting troupe whose performances feel limited and mailed in, perhaps partially due to the film's paltry 86-minute runtime. I was surprised to learn that hottie Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) made an appearance - and is credited - but I spent the entire movie fruitlessly searching for her If she's the booted leader of the secret agent women called the SSBB's - who pursue Swan and Kirby for all of two minutes - please inform the director and tell her I think she's hot.
A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swan III is run of the mill independent fare, filled with an impressive but completely underused cast. If this is supposed to be the triumphant return of Charlie Sheen, someone better inform him otherwise. It's not terrible, but minus the SSBB's and few visually appealing collages at the beginning, the rest is paper-thin-barely-passable-vagueness that gets very close to awful.
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