Falling for ‘The Fall Guy’

When I was growing up, I remember summer blockbusters as being THE exciting part about the year of movie releases. Sure, part of that was probably the endorphin rush of being out of school for the summer, but I seem to remember summer movies being about action, excitement and intrigue while still tapping into comedy, a little romance and just an overall good time. Holidays pumped out movies to see with your family but summer pumped out MOVIES. Check your realism at the entrance, buy some popcorn and drinks, then have your ticket torn to enter a world of pure entertainment. While it’s been a long time since I’ve truly felt that at the movie theatre, I was reminded of it this time.

MOVIE: The Fall Guy (2024, PG-13, 126 min, see it: in theaters only)

Before anyone jumps on the bandwagon of saying this is another reimagining of an old story, just a remake of something from long ago, another failure to tell a new story, I’ll admit there is a kernel of truth sitting in the middle of that unfortunate label for this movie. For those of us old enough to remember “The Fall Guy” (1981-1986), this movie leans lightly onto the premise of that show but is far from held up by it. Some names are the same and the stuntman background was kept, but that’s about it. Unfortunately, I think people’s assumptions about the connection between movie and show weigh the movie down with unnecessary baggage.

Much has also been made about this movie just being a tribute to stunt crews meshed with a meta approach of having another movie about making a movie. In fact, director David Leitch and star Ryan Gosling appear to be worried about these things. They filmed an introduction to their movie explaining how making the stunts a focal point is indeed to pay homage to the men and women who make them happen, something Hollywood has long been reluctant to do in a meaningful way. I found this to be a double-edged sword. Both my wife and I found this to be a self-aware attempt to get ahead of the criticisms leveled at movies like La La Land. However, I also found it as something audiences could take as a warning to not expect a very serious story. In all honesty, the story is what glues together all the insane and impressive stunt work and, more importantly, it is action-packed, emotional and humorous.

The cast is stellar with great performances from the leads Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, yet another impressive and wildly different role for Aaron Taylor-Johnson, an unfortunately minor but great performance by Winston Duke and a showing by Hannah Waddingham that sells me on the idea she should be in just about every movie. Many might know Waddingham as Rebecca Welton, the owner of the soccer team which hired Ted Lasso, but most won’t recognize her as Gail Meyer in this movie with her crazy wig. I mention all these people because the acting throughout the movie is what drew me in, and the characters that unfolded on screen were what kept me engrossed.

To me, the core brilliance of the characters in this movie is simple: they’re likable. At least the “good” side is. Most movies and shows that have been insanely popular over the last decade or more are ones where the main group really aren’t good people. You may grow attached to them, but you wouldn’t want to be within a mile of them in reality. Here though, Colt, Jody and Dan are three people that you’d be lucky to call friends, people that seem genuinely good at their core and people that I wanted to see succeed because of that. Maybe, just maybe, this will usher in a group of new heroic folks we can admire and enjoy.

So, is this movie What2Watch for you? You’ve probably already guessed my stance! I never like giving spoilers, but if it helps get anyone else into the theater to see this fun movie, I’ll end by mentioning a unicorn has a prominent role. Oh, and if you do decide to watch it, make sure you stay through all of the credits to see some fun behind-the-scenes stunt action as well as a few cameos.

Kent Kraft is someone who has always loved movies and the worlds they can transport you to if you’re willing. More than twenty years ago, he married this love of movies with his love of writing and has a personal archive of more than 700 reviews of movies and their special features. Now living in Laurium, he is loving bringing his movie thoughts to a local discourse.


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