Tuesday , April 16 2024

SXSW 2024 Film Reviews: ‘The Fall Guy,’ ‘The Gutter’ – Popcorn Time with Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Susan Sarandon

Not all films have to be cinematic masterpieces like Citizen Kane or The Godfather. Some films can be worth the price of popcorn and a soda because they are just fun. That was the case with two of the films I watched at the 2024 edition of the SXSW Conference and Festivals: The Fall Guy and The Gutter.

SXSW ran March 8 through 16. This was the 31st year of the film and TV festival. It included 118 feature films with 91 world premieres. The festival also included over 100 TV shows, short films, and extended reality (XR) experiences.

Popcorn Time

The Fall Guy reimagines the 1980s TV series that starred Lee Majors as Colt Seavers. In the TV version, which ran for five years, Seavers works as a stunt man who moonlights as a bounty hunter between film jobs.

The Gutter takes a satirical run at the classic sports films like Hoosiers or The Natural where unknowns become champions. The subject sport: not baseball, basketball, or hockey, but bowling.

The Fall Guy

Ryan Gosling brings fun to the Fall Guy
Ryan Gosling plays a stuntman turned detective

In the new version, Ryan Gosling (Barbie, La La Land) stars as Colt Seavers. This time his motivation is different. While doing a stunt, Seavers suffers an injury which takes him out of the profession. After a year of trying to recover, he gets a call from his ex-girlfriend who has gotten her first chance to direct a film. She wants his help.

Emily Blunt plays a first-time director

Emily Blunt (Oppenheimer, A Quiet Place) plays the rookie-director. Things get weird and Seavers goes into detective mode when people begin to disappear and the film’s producer, played by fun Ted Lasso co-star Hannah Waddingham, begins to act suspiciously.

Hannah Waddingham
Hannah Waddingham plays a producer with secrets

This is an exciting crime-thriller with laughs.

The Gutter

A good-at-heart guy named Walt, played by Shameik Moore (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse), has hit hard times. Then a stroke of luck: He gets hired by bowling alley AlleyCatz to tend bar and de-roach shoes. It looks like his life has turned around.

Shameik Moore
Shameik Moore plays Walt, whose life gets changed by bowling

Then AlleyCatz gets in an economic pinch and may have to close. Walt accepts a challenge from former pro bowler and current drinks-too-much hanger-on Skunk, played by D’Arcy Carden (The Good Place, Barry). He agrees to compete as a pro bowler on behalf of the alley.

He goes on the pro bowling tour, does great, has fun, but faces two antagonists who want to drag him down. An obsessed sports broadcaster with a show named Bowl Lives Matter is continually degrading him. Plus, a returned-from-retirement ex-champ, Linda “The Crusher” Curson, played by Susan Sarandon (Thelma and Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), becomes an arch-rival.

Fun Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon and D’Arcy Carden put hero Walt through a tough time

All that sounds really dramatic, but of course, all good comedy does. And this is a good comedy. It also takes a few whacks at overbearing local government, which I enjoyed.

Let’s Watch

The Fall Guy will be released only to theaters on May 3. You can watch the trailer, below.

It’s worth seeing on the big screen to fully enjoy the fun special effects and stunts. Part of the filmmakers’ inspiration was to encourage more appreciation of the work stuntmen do. They also want to support the movement to get the Academy Awards to give Oscars for stunt work.

Release dates for The Gutter are pending.

Next year’s SXSW will take place March 7 through 15. You can find out more at their website or on Twitter (@sxsw), Facebook , Instagram, or LinkedIn .

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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