PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — From its title and the other Simon & Garfunkel music to the narrative involving a recent college grad who gets romantically involved with a woman his age as well as one his mother’s age, The Only Living Boy in New York can’t help but recall The Graduate.
And while TOLBINY has its moments of generational conflict, its idiosyncratic Oedipal charm, and a surprise or two, it generally holds our interest, it nonetheless remains what we might call an under-Graduate.
The protagonist of this coming-of-age dramedy is Thomas Webb, a privileged kid played by Callum Turner, who confides in his inquisitive, garrulous, new next-door-neighbor, played by the film’s narrator, Jeff Bridges, when he discovers that his publisher father, Pierce Brosnan, is cheating on Thomas’s mother, Cynthia Nixon, with younger freelance editor Kate Beckinsale.
So Thomas decides to confront his father’s mistress himself. He stalks her until he can work up the nerve to approach her.
And from the moment he speaks to her directly – despite the fact that he is more or less wooing a young woman played by Kiersey Clemons – he finds himself strongly, irresistibly drawn to her in every way possible.
And just in case he is to remain unaware of what he is actually feeling, his neighborly life coach and romantic counselor, Bridges, points it out and breaks it down for him.
Bridges also served as an executive producer on the project, the script for which, by Allan Loeb (who also wrote Collateral Beauty and The Space Between Us) has more than its share of self-consciously literary and bordering on-pretentious dialogue.
But director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, Given, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) keeps things moving along briskly and engagingly, which certainly helps to smooth over the talky bumps in the narrative road.
Not all the relationships in TOLBINY are truly convincing. But the emotional geometry laid out on the chessboard holds us in its sway, and the presence of old pros like Bridges and Brosnan keeps putting us in check.
So we’ll graduate from 2-1/2 stars out of 4 for The Only Living Boy in New York. And here’s to you as watchable entertainment even if you’re not quite Mrs. Robinson.