Having graced screens at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, Jake Goldberger’s film “Don McKay” makes its way towards an actual theatrical release this April, and prospective viewers can now marvel (or, maybe not) at its trailer a month before the opportunity arrives to actually see the movie, which doesn’t seem likely to set the world on fire when it is finally thrust on the wider public.
It’s another of those distinctly cinematic stories of a guy who’s something of a misfit — here the eponymous Don McKay (played by Thomas Haden Church) — returning to his hometown after a lengthy absence to find that there’s something amiss. In Goldberger’s debut film (as it is unless you count 2003’s “Anger Management,” on which he was a production assistant) that “something” turns out to be Don’s former high school flame (played by Elisabeth Shue), who would seem to start dragging our hero Don into a world of malevolence and murder during their first post-sex cigarette smoke. Most likely because he’s an archetypal film character, Don’s all-too-easy a victim, pulled almost willingly into the abyss-apparent.
The trailer doesn’t look especially great — and that’s not simply because it reveals too much about the plot. One anticipates the film will attempt for a mysterious, gloomy mood, but there’s not much mystery — apart from wholly-realised motive — that’s left intact by a trailer that unfortunately gives away clearly crucial plot turns. It’s a trend in movie marketing of the present-day that potentially ruins any chance of interested investment in the lesser films being released and the bits and pieces of this brief glimpse into the movie’s own world, punctuated by shadows and faux-haunting music, doesn’t suggest anything new. A Variety review suggests a lesser, dumber re-imagining of 1944’s “Double Indemnity” and you can grasp the resemblance between the pair. If the film is no better than this trailer, perhaps you should revisit the classic instead of the revision.
In terms of cast, “Don McKay” doesn’t appear to have a lead pairing to match up to the well-known Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck masterclass. Thomas Haden Church and Elisabeth Shue headline the passingly recognisable cast (which also features Melissa Leo of critical fave “Frozen River” and Keith David of a whole lotta rubbish), two fair actors who don’t appear to be working wonders with their characters from this slight look-in. Shue looks to be playing her part no better than Elizabeth Banks played hers in “The Uninvited” — that is, no less campy — nor does Church seem to be doing much that’s altogether different from his unspectacular turn in Sam Raimi’s muddled “Spider-Man 3.” Trailers can do a disservice to some — so let’s get hoping performances surprise.
“Don McKay” files into U.S. theaters this April.
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