Galveston doesn’t hold a good track record for hosting celebrated cinematic achievements. “Last Man Club” (which will make it’s world premiere at WorldFest Houston) is the latest to use the island and county prominently in its film.
Written and directed by Bo Brinkman, cousin of Dennis and Randy Quaid, the film clearly wants to be a geezer’s last ride type of film. More mainstream similarities “Stand Up Guys” (2012) and “Last Vegas” (2013) tried to cash in on “The Hangover” craze, just swapping young irresponsible men for senior citizens.
“Last Man Club” has more of a purpose than those films, taking a look at the lives of Air Force veterans nearing their sunset hours. However, the script spoon-feeds the audience while nationally unknown actors appear to be reading cue cards as they deliver their lines.
Pete (Barry Corbin) lies waiting for his last days in Galveston’s Veterans Affairs Hospital. He pens a letter to his former B-17 crew mates, pleading with them to honor the pact they made during their service in 1944.
For Cpt. John “Eagle Eye” Pennell (James MacKrell), the letter arrives just in time, as his age and memory have started to effect his son’s family dynamic. He decided it’s time to leave before they send him to assisted living.
Pennell doesn’t get very far in his deceased wife’s 1958 Ford Fairlane before he is hijacked by a woman on the run from the mob. Romy (Kate French) starts to care about the old bomber pilot and his mission to reach out to his buddies and decides to drive him all the way down south with a few adventurous detours along the way.
The over-acting (acting that feels unnatural, obviously play-pretend) is so jarring it’s nearly impossible to pay attention to the plot development. Granted this film was shot on a small budget and very far outside the Hollywood (or even Austin) system. Yet having a police officer who pulls Romy and Pennell over wearing what looks like a Halloween police uniform removes the viewer so far outside the realm of disbelief that you never get back in.
Much of the film does take place in the car. For the viewer paying attention to details, visible continuity errors can be unforgivable. In a scene through Kentucky, out of the back window we see painted white lines suggesting a highway. In the same scene as the conversation goes back and forth, through the front windshield we see unmarked asphalt.
With good intentions and an uplifting ending insight, everything else seems to be tossed out the window.
“Who would want to kidnap an old man,” Pennell’s son asks. “Apparently an attractive young lady in an evening dress,” the officer replies as if he were guest starring on the “Andy Griffith Show.”
“Last Man Club” has all the makings of a Hallmark family special, and while there is an audience for that it isn’t on the big screen.
It isn’t enough that this film has a good heart or that it’s filmed locally, it doesn’t get a pass for its insurmountable errors and poor cinematic judgment.
Michael Madsen (“Kill Bill,” “Reservoir Dogs”) is the most recognizable face in the film, but he only appears on screen in two scenes for a total of less than five minutes. This is all during a really poorly orchestrated plane crash scene that is made worse by choppy, uneven editing.
What should have been a story about honor and friendship, celebrating veterans is instead a half-wit road trip comedy that’s embarrassing to watch.
Final Thought: Unpolished in almost every way imaginable, making it frustrating for the viewer to even receive the message.