Is Anybody There?

"Weak"

Is Anybody There? Review


In John Crowley's Is Anybody There? Michael Caine is Clarence -- a bitter, retired magician slipping into senility and consigned to a family-run old age home. Upon arrival he surveys the landscape of human decrepitude sitting and twitching in the downstairs parlor and mutters, "A lot of jabbering simpletons... You live alone all your life and then they think it's a great idea to shove you in with a bunch of strangers." Clarence, once a popular touring magician with his beloved wife Annie, is now an angry and hateful widower raging at the world.

But there is another lost soul at the old folks home, ten-year-old Edward (Bill Milner), angry at having to give up his room to the dying tenants. His Mum (Anne-Marie Duff) and Dad (David Morrissey) run the facility out of their home in an English seaside town. The recent resident of Edward's room has just died and Clarence has now arrived to take the dead man's place. Edward is obsessed with death and ghosts. When asked why he is so morbid, Edward shouts back, "Because I live here!"

If this sounds like the makings of a formulaic coming-of-age tale (that's right, another one), give yourself a bedpan. Clarence almost runs Edward down in his truck at first meeting and Edward heaves a chunk of soil at the back of Clarence's head. It's hate at first sight. Soon enough you know they are going to bond and Clarence is going to show Edward how to live and Edward is going to show Clarence how to die -- it's Harold and Maude and Where's Poppa? redone as an over-baked Yorkshire pudding.

Initially, Crowley creates a thoroughly despicable atmosphere in the old age home, with the elderly tenants deluded, spiteful, and self-centered, and you can almost smell the musty air. But Peter Harness's screenplay almost immediately does the film in; Is Anybody There? is as obvious as Caine's rancor. The clichés fly so fast that there is no sensible character development. There is not any discernible reason for Clarence and Edward to start hanging around together, they just do. Based upon vivid recollections of old Walter Matthau movies, you know there is going to be a scene where the two sit on a bench and the old guy spills out his regrets (check), a scene where the two leave the home for a wild adventure and worry the boy's parents (check), a scene where the boy gains respect from his peers due to helpful old guy advice (check), and a death scene that takes the characters from misery to extreme happiness (check-check check).

However, the film does have Michael Caine. Caine is one of those few actors who has never give a bad performance even in the most abysmal films (he was even good in Jaws: The Revenge). Caine makes Clarence's anger into a canticle of rage. But just when Clarence's nastiness becomes oppressive, Caine softens things up and sheds a dim light on his buried kindness. And Caine's charm is in evidence during a staging of his magic act for the old-age home residents (a demonstration that goes sadly awry). Unfortunately, Crowley slices and dices Caine's scenes so that it is hard for Caine to get together head of stream. The result is a collection of clips that will look great during awards season but cannot uplift Is Anybody There? from its soft nougat center of hackneyed drivel.

Room for one more.



Is Anybody There?

Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st May 2009

Box Office USA: $2.0M

Distributed by: Big Beach Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Fresh: 74 Rotten: 40

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Clarence, as Edward

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.