For a movie with an expletive in the title, Bucky F*cking Dent certainly shows a sentimental streak.
In David Duchovny’s film based on his acclaimed 2016 novel, a dying and die-hard Red Sox fan is comforted by his son and friends who make up stories of imaginary victories – even occasionally using a garden hose and mimicking sound effects of a thunderstorm to make him think certain games have been rained out. It’s like a modern version of the classic O. Henry story ‘The Last Leaf’.
Bucky F*cking Dent
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Fortunately, the film, which has its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, also contains enough caustic, irreverent humor to make the slacker aspects palatable. Represents Duchovny’s first feature directing since 2004 house of Dprovides an excellent showcase for the actor’s particular brand of deadpan comedy as the kind of cantankerous, wisecracking man who pretends to take his last breath, and, when his son leans forward to hear his last words, utters “Rosebud” before bursting into cackling laughter.
After a prologue set in 1956 that establishes the Red Sox fanaticism and chain-smoking ways of Marty (Duchovny), an advertising copywriter, the action moves to 1978, when his grown, estranged son Teddy (Logan Marshall -Green) works as a peanut vendor at Yankee Stadium. Teddy really is a failed novelist; when his beleaguered agent (Pamela Adlon, in an amusing cameo) tells him that his novels need something resembling a plot, he responds by telling her that he considers plots “a dead, 19th-century bourgeois convention.”
After Teddy receives a terrible phone call from Mariana (an attractive Stephanie Beatriz, Brooklyn nine-nine), a nurse who tells him that Marty is suffering from terminal cancer, Teddy reunites with his widowed father and even decides to move into his suburban home to help him through his final days. The resulting uneasy reconciliation between the two men forms the core of the film, with the addition of a subplot about Teddy’s budding romance with Mariana.
Duchovny, who also produced and wrote, provides ample opportunity for witty banter between Marty and Teddy, the latter of whom never quite grew up. Much of the dialogue is hilariously crude, especially in a locker room scene where the two naked men share a tender family hug after comparing penises. Teddy also comes to appreciate his father’s literary talents after discovering an unpublished novel that actually turns out to be a thinly disguised diary revealing his long-ago love for another woman.
That leads to one of the film’s less successful plot elements, in which Teddy and Mariana find lost love, Eva (Daphne Rubin-Vega), and arrange a tender reunion. What could have worked here on the page seems rushed and unconvincing, especially when Marty and Eva pretend to have forceful sex behind closed doors as a horrified Teddy eavesdrops. Equally amusing are the gags of Marty’s barber buddies (Evan Handler, Jason Beghe, Santo Fazio), who conspire not so convincingly with Teddy to trick his father into thinking the Red Sox are doing better than them.
It all leads to, how could it be otherwise, a road trip, as father and son head to Boston for a playoff game between the Yankees and Sox with the home run that inspired the title of the provocative movie. Again, Duchovny struggles with the film’s tone, leading his character to a tearful confession that turns out to be more sentimental than revealing.
General, Bucky F*cking Dent works better as black comedy than drama, with Duchovny and Marshall-Green (who seems a little too old for his character, though it works in this case) exchanging witty jokes and insults like a seasoned vaudeville comedy team. By the time Marty has revealed his amusing secret about the reason for his long-standing Red Sox fandom, you’ll have come to fully appreciate his hard-earned hot temper.
Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Spotlight Narrative)
Production companies: Yale Productions, King Baby Productions, Pinnacle Management Group, Great Escape
Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, David Duchovny, Stephanie Beatriz, Jason Beghe, Evan Handler, Santo Fazio, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Pamela Adlon
Director-screenwriter: David Duchovny
Producers: David Duchovny, Jordan Beckerman, Jordan Yale Levine
Executive Producers: Peter R. Anske, Randy E. Kleinman, Aviva Carroll, Jason Kringstein, Scott Levenson, Kurt Ebner, Nicholas Donnermeyer, Tiffany Kuzon, Gregory Ruden, Anne B. Ruden, Michael J. Rothstein, Patrick Heaphy, Jeffrey Tussi, David Nazar
Director of Photography: Jeff Powers
Production Designer: Luke Carr
Editor: Jamie Nelson
Costume Designer: Lou Shad|
Composer: Vincent Jones
Casting: Trevor St Jon David
1 hour 45 minutes