Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Studio: Rough Diamond Productions
Director: Bernard Rose
Review Rating: 7
Very loosely based on a short story by Tolstoy, Two Jacks tells the story of a father and son generational legacy of making movies in Hollywood.
So the first Jack Hussar has a legend of making movies in earlier Hollywood, but he’s been gone for some time and his legacy is considered over by the time he shows back up. Met at the airport by a single rabid fan and aspiring producer Brad, Jack Sr. wastes no time monopolizing poor Brad up down and sideways, first for an unpaid hotel room bill, then a cab ride with his huge dog, and then at the celebrity party he schmoozes his way into. Jack Sr. has a reputation for unpredictability, so when he encounters a magnetizing woman at the party, not knowing or caring that she happens to be Brad’s sister Diana, he of course completely seduces her. This isn’t your typical jaded Hollywood seduction that might be expected, either, there seems to be some sort of magnetic mutual seduction going on. This doesn’t prevent Jack Sr. from jacking Diana’s car after the seductions over and she’s passed out, however. Off at another party, Jack Sr. manages to embroil himself in arguments and we’ll say aggressive negotiations, but after all this foolery, Jack Sr. somehow manages to redeem himself a bit with a high stakes poker game in the wee hours of the morning. What he wagered and what he won are topics of some speculation, and the why of it may not even be something Jack Sr. himself can answer. Then the sepia tones and soft lighting fades and we’re in more or less present day for the latter half of the story.
Jack Jr. is an arrogant little pip with none of the charisma of his father evident as we meet him. He already has a Los Angeles movie deal in the works, he just (big surprise) needs to pick a leading lady. And like most young upstarts in Hollywood, Jack Jr. seems to take this as carte blanche to “audition” as many “talented” girls he comes across as possible. After declaring his hotel accommodations absolutely unsuitable, Jack Jr. meets up with some girlfriends to discuss auditions, and after learning who his father was, eagerly takes up the offer of lodging in an old friends house. Turns out, one of the girls he’s auditioning is the daughter of Jack Sr.’s long lost seduction Diana. Not to say that Jack Sr. is her father, Alexis just happens to be Diana’s daughter. So inevitably Jack Jr. tells Alexis that she was destined to star in his film and begins the process of seducing her, only to get continually interrupted. High stakes poker, a stripper with acting aspirations, and binge drinking to public sex doesn’t make the cops happy, and Jack Jr. finds himself sitting back in the airport with his fathers amused shadow looking on. It does seem as though the charisma traits both father and son share are beginning to show in Jack Jr., though he needs to go through the process of making his own mistakes and build his own legend in Hollywood before he can aspire to be just as cool as Jack Sr. was.
It’s a fine movie and I did enjoy it, if in no small part for the real-life father and son acting duo Danny Huston as Senior and Jack Huston as Junior. Sienna Miller is Diana in the sepia-toned world, and a strong Jacqueline Bisset plays her some 20 years later. The softer shades of early Hollywood in Jack Sr.’s world is a great help in clearly defining which era the viewer is in. But as for the story, not everyone will understand it. Generational magnetism and charisma are excellent but subtle ideas, and not everyone wants to think that hard when they go to the movies. And did I mention Billy Zane is in it, however briefly?