Maybe Diminished Capacity isn't "all that and a bag of chips," as a friend of mine is fond of saying. But I'll tell you what, it's pretty funny. I think I heard more laughing than anything I've seen at Sundance since Napoleon Dynamite and Little Miss Sunshine. That bodes well for the box office prospects of this film.
Alan Alda gives a terrific performance as Rollie Zerb, a small-town Missouri old-timer with Alzheimer's, who lives with his sister (and some hilarious but unidentified guy named Wendell in a trailer by the house). They are visited by Cooper (Matthew Broderick), who arrives at his mother's request to help talk Uncle Rollie into a nursing home. Cooper has mental problems of his own, due to a recent concussion. While back in town, he runs into Charlotte (Virginia Madsen), his high school sweetheart who is recently divorced from the town mayor. And somehow Rollie, Cooper, Charlotte and her son wind up heading to Chicago, where they are going to try to sell Uncle Rollie's rare baseball card of Frank Schulte, from the 1908 Chicago Cubs (the last Cubbies team to win the World Series!).
Broderick is solid, in his awkward, understated way. Madsen is the straight woman. But Alan Alda makes the movie as Uncle Rollie, and dominates the screen in almost every scene. And yes, if you squint you'll see shades of Hawkeye Pierce, but his Rollie character is a complete departure from anything he has done in the past, and probably his best comedic performance since MASH.
The script is very well-written, if a bit awkward at parts, and under the direction of veteran actor Terry Kinney, the action moves along briskly. There is probably more tension than there needs to be, which doesn't really fit. But when you're not wincing, you're generally laughing. There are some hilarious lines, and a plenty of feel-good vibe. Everyone will like this movie.
Sundance Moment: Broderick was much better on stage than I would have expected. He was there with his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, whose movie Smart People had premiered at Sundance the night before. Alan Alda was charming as well. Bobby Canavale was in two movies playing at Sundance this year, the other being The Merry Gentleman.