What in the heck happened to Robert De Niro? The legendary thespian that gave us Taxi Driver and Raging Bull has been cranking out dreck like Everybody's Fine and Showtime over the past decade. While his bank account hasn't suffered, his legacy undoubtedly has.
When De Niro signed on to Being Flynn, he was likely under the impression that it would become a small step towards acting redemption - a film where he could display his gravitas in earnest. Unfortunately for the now 68-year-old, it's simply another flick for his growing pile of bile.
Adapted from a memoir by playwright and poet Nick Flynn, Being Flynn is the late 80s tale of a failing writer and father Jonathan Flynn (De Niro) and his jacked-up relationship with son Nick (Paul Dano). Jonathan drives a cab (oh the irony) armed with a club with a pair of nails should the need to bash someone he despises arise. For the elder Flynn, that applies to just about everyone - the dude is a racist and homophobe not to mention massively disgruntled and an egomaniac to boot.
After getting tossed from his apartment by his "scum-sucking landlord", dad phones son for the first time in eons, looking for a hand getting all of the pack-ratted junk out of his now former pad. Nick answers the call and thus begins the agonizingly irritating relationship between the two writers that plays out for the remainder of the miserable movie.
Neither character is likable; Dano is horribly miscast - he's a rail-thin odd-looking bloke but bizarrely women find the floundering loser irresistible. De Niro gets to go all Travis Bickle during the second half of the flick - incessantly raging after winding up in the same homeless shelter that his son happens to work at.
Director Paul Weitz worked with De Niro on Little Fockers - it's difficult to determine which movie offered more laughs. De Niro's ranting and raving gets ratcheted up to comedic levels - his shouting incoherently while adorned in a toga-like getup is mind-numbingly annoying. By that point, there's a very good chance the urge to scream "shut up!" will prove impossible to resist.
It's a shame the studio didn't choose to keep the original title of the book in place, Another Bulls**t Night in Suck City would have been quite fitting for the film.