More and more films premiere on Video on Demand — if they don’t simply bypass a theatrical release altogether. Because VOD reviews are often scarce and hard to find, Criticwire created VODetails, a recurring column to help you figure out whether a new VOD release is worth your hard-earned dollar. This time we’re looking at “Charles Swan III,” a quirky comedy from writer/director Roman Coppola — not a biopic of the reluctant buccaneer killed in 1690.
Director: Roman Coppola
Cast: Charlie Sheen, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray
Criticwire Average: B- (1 critic)
Official Synopsis: “Set in a stylized Los Angeles, ‘Charles Swan III’ is a playful comedy of lost love, friendship, revenge fantasies, and Brandy Alexanders. Charles (Sheen) is a successful graphic designer whose fame, money and charm have provided him with a seemingly perfect life. When his true love, a perplexing beauty named Ivana, suddenly breaks off their relationship, Charles’ life falls apart, and he swirls into a downward spiral of doubt, confusion and reflection. With the support of his loyal intimates — Kirby (Schwartzman), Saul (Murray), and his sister, Izzy (Patricia Arquette) — he begins the hard road of self-evaluation to come to terms with a life without Ivana. The film begs the question: Is it possible to love and hate someone at the same time?”
“A film of surface pleasures, even joys, but those joys seem to be longing for a central idea around which to coalesce.”
“Shares some of its oddball DNA and a few actors with Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and ‘The Darjeeling Limited,’ which Coppola co-wrote, though ‘Swan’ lacks those films’ fastidious design and storytelling.”
“A film where the production design has as much dramatic heft as the plot.”
“[Sheen’s] swaggering, clowning portrayal of Swan, a successful graphic designer with naked women on the brain, has likable moments of sheer absurd humor. But as a latter-day ‘Being John Malkovich’ (where Sheen appeared in a brief self-parody), the film lacks style, wit, and originality.”
“Roman throws everything at the wall — ‘Monty Python’-style animation, musical numbers, marionettes, pointless cameos from Stephen Dorff, Richard Edson, Dermot Mulroney and ‘Parks and Rec’‘s Aubrey Plaza — and nothing doesn’t stink.”
“Charles Swan III” is now available on VOD. It opens in theaters on February 8th.