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Review: 'The Fall Guy' fumbles somewhere between parody and sincerity

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Ryan Gosling’s latest movie, "The Fall Guy," aims high, but falls short. 

It tries to imbue its goofy action-movie parody with a generic, mediocre story. The result doesn’t satisfy either potential, leaving viewers of any predisposition disappointed.

I had a good time, for sure, and the movie is a blast — but it didn’t blow me away.

“The Fall Guy,” by “Deadpool 2” and “Bullet Train” director David Leitch, follows Ryan Gosling as a stuntman forced to track down the missing star of a movie directed by his love interest, Emily Blunt. Gosling’s character uses his knowledge of stunt work to moonlight as a full-blown action hero in his escapades. 

Leitch himself is a trained stuntman, having done stunt work on movies such as “Ocean’s Eleven,”The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Speed Racer.” And the film really leans into the "stuntman” premise, delivering scene after scene of over-the-top, and very impressive, action. The schtick doesn’t get old; each new stunt somehow manages to top the last. 

In fact, I wish “The Fall Guy” had leaned more into its hammy, meathead action. The film comes too close to parody to be an effective, sincere action picture, but it doesn’t lean into it quite enough to be considered true satire. That said, the stunts themselves were fun enough to warrant the occasional tonal unevenness. 

Blunt, of course, shines, and the leading character is not exactly untrodden ground for the thrice Oscar-nominated Gosling, so he nails the performance.

“The Fall Guy” is also very loosely based on a 1980s TV show of the same name, which I had never heard of, but the similarities seem to stop at a few characters’ names and the barest bones of the premise.

I’ll admit. I may be expecting too much from “The Fall Guy.” After all, it’s a funny action comedy with a slew of current big name actors, each of whom absolutely kills it. What more does anyone want?

Well, I want a cohesive tone.

And that’s not to say I don’t like a good parody! The “loving lampoon” parts of the movie are my favorites by far. I wish the movie had leaned into those more, especially given how well they work and how much the sincere scenes can drag. 

There is a point in the film, about two-thirds of the way through, in which it seems like it’s about to end in one big climactic moment. I would’ve been happy with that ending, but the movie had around 35 minutes left, and 20 of those minutes were the most tediously serious scenes in the whole affair.

These few minutes were definitely the low point, and I was sitting in my seat painstakingly counting the seconds until the inevitable grand finale.

And, oh, man, the finale. What a finale.

After 90-plus minutes of me screaming “Commit! Commit!” in my head every time the movie flip-flopped between parody and sincerity, I finally got my wish. I won’t spoil anything here, but the big ending is really, really big. 

I don’t want it to seem like I didn’t like this movie — I did! Most technical elements are pretty awesome. The stunts and special effects are, naturally, spectacular, and the comedy in the script is as funny as you’d expect it to be. 

I also want to mention how well the ensemble cast works. Normally, I’m not a big fan of movies full of big-name celebrities in every role, but I went into “The Fall Guy” totally blind, and I’ll admit I enjoyed seeing a few familiar faces that I wasn’t expecting, though I wish “Everything Everywhere All at Once’sStephanie Hsu was in a few more scenes. 

All in all, “The Fall Guy” is definitely worth seeing, just don’t go into it with your expectations too high — it’s more of a fun romp than a cohesive film.

@banana_peels

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com

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