Best Sellers (7/10)
by Tony Medley
One of the best Seinfeld shows was when Jerry and Jason Alexander had to meet Elaine’s father (Lawrence Tierney), who was a disgruntled novelist a la Norman Mailer. It was a riot.
Alas, this movie is not a riot, although it is labeled a comedy. Lucy Stanbridge (Aubrey Plaza) has taken over her father’s publishing house and has run it into the ground. She is at her wits end when she finds out that the company is owed a book by Harris Shaw (Michael Caine). To say that Shaw is reclusive is akin to saying that J.D. Salinger was shy. After his one huge best seller he hasn’t published or done anything except drink booze and feel sorry for himself.
However, she finds out he has a new book which he hates, and she convinces him to let her publish it. He insists nobody edit it and she agrees if he will agree to a book tour, which he does.
Meet the book tour from hell. Plaza and Caine have terrific charisma together and do wonderful work as the ill-matched couple as she tries to sell the book and he seems to be doing his best to torpedo it. In lesser hands, this could have been a real loser. At 88, Caine produces one of his better performances and Plaza is right there with him; the acting is superb if the plot and situations strain credulity.
But it is well directed by Lina Roessler from a script by Anthony Grieco and even though I don’t view it as a comedy, it turns out to be one of the better films of the year.