It’s been three days since I watched Don McKay, and I still haven’t figured out if it’s a comedy or a “taut neo-noir thriller” as it says on the case.
Don (Thomas Hayden Church) lives the life of quiet desperation that Pink Floyd sang about, working as a janitor in a high school in Boston. One day he receives a letter from someone claiming to be an old girlfriend, and he decides to make the trip back home to try and rekindle the relationship. Almost immediately Don’s dark past comes back to haunt him, and he must try to come to terms with his history while he becomes mired in a dark, twisting plot of lies and murder.
I spent the majority of the movie trying to figure out what was going on, but not in the fun “who done it?” way that neo-noir thrillers are supposed to be. Mostly I just tried to figure out why everybody in the film acted so strangely. The acting was wooden and vaguely disjointed, and I didn’t know if it was because they all had something to hide, or if the film was trying for some kind of subtle parody. After seeing the movie all the way through I’d say it’s the former but there are enough ridiculous scenes (the ending, for example) that I can’t entirely discount this being a parody on some level.
It’s not that a thriller can’t have humor, but the ridiculous way the characters act coupled with the overall ridiculous nature of the plot make it very difficult to tell what’s meant to be thrilling and what’s meant to be funny. That it fails as comedy and as a thriller isn’t shocking as neither element is strong enough to make this an entertaining movie.
If it weren’t for the performances of Church, Elizabeth Shue, Keith David, and M. Emmet Walsh, this movie would have been a complete failure. The actors make this far more entertaining than it should be, but even they can’t save this movie from its flaws.
The movie was presented in Widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio with the audio in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. English and Spanish subtitles are provided for the hearing impaired. There were no problems with either the audio or the video.
There’s nothing really worth watching here—just your standard boilerplate extras.
Audio Commentary Featuring Director Jake Goldberger and Producer Jim Young
The question whether it’s a comedy, a thriller, or some combination of the two is really academic. Good acting aside, the story is weak and you’ll come away from Don McKay feeling like you wasted ninety minutes of your life. Not recommended.
Animus/Films presents Don McKay. Directed by: Jake Goldberger. Starring: Thomas Hayden Church, Elizabeth Shue, Melissa Leo, Pruitt Taylor Vince, James Rebhorn, Keith David, and M. Emmet Walsh. Written by: Jake Goldberger. Running time: 90 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: June 29, 2010.