“THE FALL GUY”
Starting Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt
Written by Drew Pearce
Directed by David Leitch

By Matt Neufeld
May 3, 2024

Once upon a much better time, ABC nonchalantly aired a somewhat mindless, but purely harmless and mildly entertaining, action-adventure show, “The Fall Guy,” that somehow managed to succeed and tough it out for five crazy years amid the neverending bizarro and nonsensical wasteland that is prime time television. That’s right, “The Fall Guy,” starring the always-likeable Lee Majors—-really, how can you not like Lee Majors–and the always likeable Heather Thomas—-really, how can you not like Heather Thomas—-aired from 1981 to 1986. Sigh. Those were fun times, all around. Really fun times. Once upon a much better time, indeed.

Thus, unfortunately we must jump awkwardly and moronically and tiresomely through the ill winds of warped time to a much worse time all around—-2024—-and we have, yet again, as if The Curse of the Diabolical Evil Underworld Lord of Unneeded Unoriginal Unwanted Sequels, Prequels, Remakes, Reboots and Reimaginings has yet again struck from the very depths of Hell itself, a big average stumbling and bumbling and somewhat of a wasteland of a movie called, are you ready, “The Fall Guy,” that, aside from the ripped-off title and some character names and jobs, has just about absolutely nothing to do with the original, beloved, 1980s-era, much-better-time-rooted television show.

In other words, here we go yet again with yet another remake that just simply didn’t need to be made, had no clear reason to be made, and, by being made, once again offensively and rudely besmirches, smudges and taints, for no clear and present reason, the reputation of another beloved entertainment entity that doesn’t deserve this unfair treatment.

Go ahead, you can say it, because it’s true, and because it needs to be said over and over again until the Evil Curse is broken: “The Fall Guy,” the 2024 unneeded movie, is yet another example of the consistent, pervasive, annoying—-and continually industry-damaging—-trend of generally average-to–below-average Hollywood movies that shamelessly and embarrassingly and criminally glom off of, rip off and steal off of previous, much better, more-respected and much-more-loved shows, plays, games, brands, toys, products, books, comic books, characters, other things and, yes, movies.

Oh, Evil Lord of Unoriginality, we pray to you and plead to you, once again: Make it stop. For all that is good in this world, please make it stop.

“The Fall Guy,” the movie, is a dumbed-down, over-done, loud, louder, over-edited, frenetically-paced, awkwardly-timed, over-produced, over-directed, over-acted, over-stunt-filled, and completely under-written popcorn action-adventure/comedy/romance movie that barely registers, is over-done on just about every level, is achingly goofy-dumb, isn’t great or even good on most levels, but it also—-somehow—-isn’t overly horrible, either. It’s a dumb, slightly-enjoyable popcorn B-movie, designed to provide a few easy laughs; a few actually impressive action, fight, car, chase and stunt sequences; a whiff, but only a whiff, of something nearing romance, maybe; two beautiful, attractive and presence-filled leads; and some movie-version backstage journeys into the behind-the-scenes setcraft of movie making.

“The Fall Guy” is a mindless rainy-day, matinee-ticket, breezy diversion that lets one escape for two hours in a darkened theater without having to utilize more than six or seven working brain cells, if that many. Grab the popcorn and candy, sit back, hold your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s hand, and just have a few easy laughs. And then, a few hours later, try to remember just what it was that you just watched, and why. But just don’t dwell too long on the why, least you get PRHS, or Post Remake Headache Syndrome.

In “The Fall Guy”—-the new movie, not the beloved television show—-Ryan Gosling goofily—-too goofily—-plays Colt Seavers—-only in Hollywood is anyone named Colt Seavers—-who is an experienced movie stuntman who gets injured working on a huge stunt fall for a movie; ends up subsequently working as a car valet at a restaurant; and then gets called back to work on a movie by a producer, only to have that producer then ask Seavers to track down the movie’s lead actor, who’s mysteriously disappeared because of something nefarious and suspicious. And the film that Seavers gets invited back to work on is of course directed by Seavers’ old girlfriend, Jody Moreno, played by a stunningly beautiful and sexy Emily Blunt, who is, yes, prettier than Gosling. Moreno, amazingly, isn’t told by the irritating producer that her old boyfriend has been hired as the main stunt double for the missing lead actor, who, strangely, no one apparently seems to notice is missing in action on the set.

If you found all of the above inane plot description absolutely unbelievable and unable to comprehend normally even with an incredible willing suspension of the highest level of stunned disbelief, then your brain is working. The movie’s plot—-and this is only half of it—-is so inane, so ridiculous, so moronic, even amid the guise of a silly goofy popcorn movie, one just has to shake their head, chuckle and go with it.

Your working brain will have even more of a difficult time comprehending on any intelligent level what happens next in the movie. It’s all so ridiculous, it all just gets more and more mind-numbing as the minutes alternately creep or fly by. By the end of the second act, all you’ll want to do is wait for the next moment that Emily Blunt or Ryan Gosling are on screen and wait for the next big action, fight, chase or stunt scene. And enjoy that big, overflowing tub of warm, buttered, salted, crunchy popcorn.

However, another main problem with the overall movie is that the crew isn’t even smart or clever enough to approach its ridiculous story and plot context with anything approaching clever, satirical, sharp comedy stylings. It’s yet another one of those modern-day movies wherein the writer is trying to be funny, but he can’t really write actually funny comedy; the director is trying to be funny, but he has zero idea about how to actually direct movie comedy; and the actors, except for Gosling, as hard as they’re trying, aren’t really naturally funny, and they don’t really have natural comedy chops.

Additionally, “The Fall Guy” concurrently fails to register overall as a competent action-adventure movie; fails to register overall as a competent romantic movie; and fails to register as a type of murder-mystery who-done-it—-despite trying to be bits and pieces of all of the above.

The movie simply tries too hard to be too many things and, in the end, fails to succeed at any of those things. It’s all over the place. Once again, as with too many and so many modern-day movies, the movie utterly lacks restraint, subtleness, patience, grace, steady pacing, mature and restrained timing, and any real general sense of an overall consistent style. It’s everywhere all at once and it never slows down enough to be something memorable in a truly atmospheric and stylish time and place.

The stunts and action sequences are impressive. However, even these elaborate stunts are over-shot with too many cameras, too many angles, too many edits, too many suffocating and claustrophobic close-ups and too many self-aware and even arrogant nod-nod-wink-wink insider Hollywood asides and knowing inside jokes. Any competent writer, director, cinematographer and stunt director knows that, simply, the best way to show off a stunt is to just show the stunt. Let the stunt sell itself. Often, a stunt is just a stunt—-in a good way. You don’t need to show it off with two-dozen cameras, a thousand edits, a thousand computer-generated imagery (CGI) effects, annoying showy drone shots, overly-loud sound effects, blaring music and a military brigade’s worth of pyrotechnics, fire and explosions. Just…show…the…stunt.

In “The Fall Guy,” the movie, even the big, impressive stunts are overdone.

In the end, as with all of these crazy, confounding, cursed remakes, reboots, reimaginings, sequels and
prequels, as the unneeded newer things quickly fade into the background, let yourself pleasantly drift back to where it all began, back to those much better times.

So, crank up some Modern English, Simple Minds, Thompson Twins, Kix, Berlin, Bangles, Blackhearts and Billy Idol, put on your old flashy colorful striped shirts, tease your hair up, and put on some old tapes of the Lee Majors/Heather Thomas original version of the real, only, true “The Fall Guy,” and enjoy a nice, good ol’ ride down memory lane, back to times that were more fun, much more welcoming, much more laid back, and simply so much better.

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Matt Neufeld

Matt Neufeld

Matt Neufeld is a longtime journalist, actor and film critic in the Washington and Baltimore areas. He has participated in many local film events and projects in the region, and he has appeared as an actor, supporting actor and extra in more than 45 films projects, at all levels, during the past 20 years.