The one reason to see this film: Robert De Niro. It's his best role in years. Finally, he's Robert De Niro again. It almost absolves him of the Fockers fiascos.
Based on a real life story, De Niro plays an ex-con would-be writer who hasnít seen his only son in 18 years. If he was rich, he'd be called eccentric. As a gay and Black hating taxi driver, he's just plain crazy. When he's thrown out of his tenement apartment for beating up a too-loud neighbor, he looks up son Paul Dano (best known for There Will Be Blood and Little Miss Sunshine) for a brief life line. As quickly as his dad enters his life, he's gone again til they are reunited in the most surreal situation: a homeless shelter where Danoís Nick is working with dire dad Jonathan shows up.
De Niro and Dano are great together. No one does befuddled like Dano, which is how Nick reacts to his dadís rages. They're the perfect passive-aggressive team. Nick is almost as troubled as his dad. He's still struggling with the untimely death of the one constant in his life: his mom, played by Julianne Moore. Moore is both underused and underdrawn.
Directed by Paul Weitz, the compelling music of Badly Drawn Boy is liberally featured, as it was in Weitz's earlier movie About A Boy. I was so impressed, some songs took me out of the film. Just a few other films had the same impact on me: Good Will Hunting and Garden State come to mind .
Basically, this is a very well-acted depressing film about miserable people.