On Monday night, Magnolia Pictures and Peggy Siegal hosted the premiere for Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s The Extra Man. A screening, with stars Kevin Kline, Paul Dano, and Katie Holmes in attendance, was followed by a party at the recently-opened Vapiano restaurant near Union Square. The comedy opens in theaters, starting July 30, but is now available via your Movies On Demand channel. In one of Kevin Kline’s best performances in years, the film is the story of an aging writer who spends his time getting free dinners out of wealthy widows, in exchange for his company. As Henry Harrison, Kline is an “extra man,” a provider of companionship to women in need. Henry soon meets Louis Ives (Paul Dano), a young and confused man who looks to Henry as a mentor. The film doesn’t always work, but Kline’s performance is worth the effort to step into another oddball world by Berman and Pulcini.
The Extra Man is the couple’s first indie production (acquired by Magnolia out of Toronto last year) since their 2003 smash, American Splendor. Much like Paul Giamatti anchored a great ensemble in that film, Kevin Kline works well here with Berman and Pulcini as they showcase his best work since In & Out (1997). It’s somewhat depressing that Kline has strived to be great in lacking dramas (De-Lovely and Trade) or scaled back in small roles in relatively soft comedies (The Pink Panther and Definitely, Maybe), but he also hasn’t been seen in an out-and-out comedy lead since In & Out. Thankfully, Berman and Pulcini (along with their producers) managed to give Kline the stage we’ve awaited. Here is the film’s trailer: