Whatever happened to Lawrence Kasdan?
How could the co-writer of “The Empire Strikes Back” and director of “Body Heat,” “The Accidental Tourist” and “The Big Chill” disappear while young hacks deliver video game-inspired duds and slapdash sequels in his absence?
Yes, Kasdan’s 2003 film “Dreamcatcher” deserves a place in the Razzies Hall of Fame, but even the great ones are allowed a mulligan.
Kasdan’s first directorial project in nine years, “Darling Companion,” sure has the pedigree to bring his career back from the brink. Kevin Kline, Diane Keaton, Richard Jenkins, Dianne Wiest and Sam Shepard star in a film showing just how far some people will go to find a lost dog.
What a simple premise, but our first look at the film doesn’t deliver much beyond trite sight gags beneath the veteran cast.
Kasdan is certainly taking a risk relying on an older actors to revive his cinematic fortunes. Keaton, Kline and company would be a real draw back in the ’80s, but our youth-obsessed times make it harder for aging casts to rally the ‘tween set to the theaters. Keaton did buck the odds with the delectable 2003 rom-com “Something’s Gotta Give,” and 2009’s “It’s Complicated” pulled off a similar stunt.
But writer/director Nancy Meyers helmed both of those sleeper hits, and few of her peers have a similar golden touch.
Will Kasdan outdo Meyers? The trailer doesn’t give us a burst of hope. The snippet features some silly mugging by Kline and a few lines that seem to state the obvious in ways bad movies too often do.
Perhaps the most optimistic way to view “Companion” is through the lens of “Grand Canyon,” Kasdan’s ripe ode to life in early ’90s Los Angeles. That film came overloaded with flaws, but its big picture and terrific cast yanked at our emotions all the same.
“Darling Companion” hits theaters April 20.