"The Fall Guy" and the State of Movie Theaters, Part 3 (Note #1)


The empty IMAX theater that greeted me (see Note #1) - photo by the author

A short movie review of The Fall Guy and comments on the state of movie-going

If you know me, it's no surprise that on my second day of not having a job I went to an afternoon movie. I went because I wanted to watch a movie, more than a desire for any specific title. I was looking for something fun to watch on the big screen. My choice was The Fall Guy

As a fun summer action movie, The Fall Guy delivers. (Note #2) Director David Leitch has crafted a well-made love letter to the stunt industry.  

Without giving away too much of the plot, there's a decent backstory to support the awesome stunts and some good performances by the leads Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling. (Note #3) Plus, the film has a heart… I plan to see it again with my wife, because who knew the Fall Guy was such a romantic?  

Mixed in are some 80s references that resonated with this Gen Xer; look for Chekov’s Jacket… with the perfect audio cue for when it’s relevant. (Note #4) After the film, stick around for the behind-the-scenes footage during the end credits and there’s a final scene after them that pays homage to the 80s TV show of the same name.

Being critical for a moment: The gunplay in this movie danced close to the edge of my rule about not watching people running around shooting at each other. (https://blog.tectonicspeed.com/2019/02/movie-review-alita-battle-angel.html) Fortunately, there isn’t a lot of gunplay, but when it happens the bad guys have Stormtrooper-caliber pathetic aim. I would have preferred a version of this movie without guns at all – that would have worked just as well. Also, if you find car chases stupid, then this movie isn’t for you. 

To end on a positive note, I want to emphasize how much I enjoyed the script. The plot mostly hangs together, the romantic subplot sizzled, and the story is efficient - with several early jokes and references coming back later as plot points (it’s not just Chekov’s jacket, there’s also Chekov’s guitar-mace).  

Lastly, I appreciated what they said in the theater-only introduction, about how the filmmakers thought about the audience as they made the movie. The Fall Guy rewards an attentive audience who knows a bit about the industry, with several winking moments that don't quite break the fourth wall, but knowingly acknowledge that there is an audience on our end, and we’re in on the joke.


Note #1: I wrote about the decline in the industry twice before which is why I call this part 3.

Our local theater certainly lost money showing our IMAX screening to the three of us in attendance. (The picture at the top is the empty theater that greeted me when I walked in, 5 minutes before showtime.) I know from personal experience how painful it can be to show a movie at a loss – as I discussed in the “Prologue” to this post about paying two employees for three hours to show a movie to one person. (https://blog.tectonicspeed.com/2016/04/boy-was-i-wrong-about-that-one.html)

Hits like The Fall Guy (and Barbie, Top Gun, etc.) are signs of post-pandemic life, but I still don't see a bright future for the movie industry. I expect the number of theaters to decrease as more shut down, but I predict a long tail of decline. To my core, I believe that a well-run theater in the right location (with a large enough population) can still succeed…

Note #2: I judge movies based on their genre. I’m not going to hold The Fall Guy up to the same standard for script and acting as American Fiction,  which was a fabulous adaptation of the book, by the way.

Note #3: Kudos to Emily Blunt for crafting her character as the right balance of competence, confusion, and coldness. The scene where she’s directing on the beach and sees Ryan Gosling’s character for the first time is really a wonderful demonstration of acting chops. Also, I like the recent “lighter” version of Ryan Gosling we see here and in Barbie more than the unsmiling one early in his career.

Note #4: “Chekov’s jacket” is a nod to “Chekov’s gun” - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov%27s_gun