The considerable charms of Jason Bateman and Olivia Wilde get a considered workout in the lightly charming New York romance “The Longest Week.”
It’s a droll comedy, with a droll narration (by Larry Pine), set among the idle affluent of Manhattan, the sort of film that Woody Allen or Whit Stillman might make, given a Wes Anderson script — a little twee, but not Wes-twee.
Bateman stars as Conrad Valmont, a pampered, 40ish man-child lost in “the distractions of wealth.” He lives in the family hotel, rides with the family chauffeur and spends his huge family allowance.
Then his globe-trotting parents decide to divorce and that neither of them wants to support him. He’s evicted, penniless, with only a pricey haircut, tailored clothes and a motor scooter to his name.
His shrink, played by Woody Allen’s old pal, Tony Roberts, is worried. Conrad is shallow, obsessed with physical beauty. And he’s dead set against the idea of working for a living. How will he survive?
Conrad’s “Longest Week” begins with a first-time-in-decades ride on the subway, which takes him to his artist-friend Dylan (Billy Crudup). The lovelorn Dylan will put him on the sofa for a few days, but he has to fret over Conrad’s little peccadilloes, his inappropriate flirting with high school soccer players.
“Like little VEAL,” Conrad enthuses.
He nags and nags Conrad to not make a play for Dylan’s potential new “ingenue” girlfriend, Beatrice (Olivia Wilde).
“Don’t you try anything,” he says, in maybe 24 different ways.
“I won’t,” Conrad lies. Repeatedly.
Who could resist Beatrice, a child of wealth, a model, a Bach fan who fancies hers as a life of virtue. She’s a vegetarian.
“Do you love animals that much?”
“No, no. I just hate plants!”
Over the course of Conrad’s week, he endures an attempted set-up with a pretentious grad student, played by the comic Jenny Slate of “Obvious Child.” He tries to reach his parents, falls in love, and he hides his impending poverty with style, not letting on he’s penniless in the greatest city in the world…for those who have money.
Writer-director Peter Glanz doesn’t hammer his jokes, relying on the cast to wring charm out of characters and situations. Bateman’s eccentric line-readings will make you smile.
“I think I see some…foie gras. Want some…DUCK?”
Bateman and Wilde share a cute little aging hipster dance scene in a high-end bar where French pop plays on the jukebox. The few genuinely quirky bits, casting Slate as the “post modern criticism major,” making Dylan’s way of ending a relationship the act of giving the kissed-off a used Volvo, pay dividends.
There just aren’t enough such moments. This shiny New York-in-fall film is no deeper than its pairing of “a hopeless romantic” with “the romantically hopeless,” and hoping for the best. Sometimes that works, but not often enough to make this “week” the whirlwind it might have become.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and smoking.
Cast: Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde, Billy Crudup, Jenny Slate, Tony Roberts
Credits: Written and directed by Peter Glanz. A Gravitas release.
Running time: 1:26
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