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Reverse The Curse Review

David Duchovny writes, directs, and stars in this sports-themed movie about grief co-starring Logan Marshall-Green and Stephanie Beatriz.

Reverse The Curse Review

PLOT: Ted is a failed writer-turned-Yankees Stadium peanut slinger who moves back home after learning of the failing health of his Red Sox-obsessed father, Marty. While Marty strives to make amends for his past, his health drops abruptly whenever his beloved Sox lose a game. To keep his dad’s spirits up, Ted takes matters into his own hands and manufactures a winning streak with the help of a crew of dad’s neighborhood pals. An ode to the bond between father and son, this warm and witty film demonstrates how life truly belongs to the losers, and that the longshots are the ones worth betting on.

REVIEW: Over the last decade, David Duchovny has transformed from actor to musician and novelist. On top of three albums of original songs, the former star of The X-Files and Californication has written four best-selling novels. After a great role in HBO’s The Sympathizer, Duchovny returns for his first feature film directorial effort since 2004’s House of D. Adapting his own novel, Bucky F*cking Dent, Duchovny stars alongside Logan Marshall-Green and Stephanie Beatriz in the film Reverse The Curse. Telling the story of fathers and sons, missed opportunities, sickness, death, and loss and grief, Duchovny blends a sense of humor with emotionally resonant storytelling, all told through the lens of the healing power of baseball. While it does not all come together as cohesively as it could have, Duchovny tugs at the right heartstrings while showcasing the talents of costars Marshall-Green and Beatriz.

Logan Marshall-Green takes the lead as Ted, a peanut vendor at Yankee Stadium and a struggling novelist who the editor tells that he needs to experience something to write meaningful stories that people care about. Ted then learns that his father, Marty (David Duchovny), has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. After meeting with Mariana (Stephanie Beatriz), Marty’s nurse, helping him prepare to die, Ted returns home to spend time with his father before he passes away. There is tension between Ted and Marty, something that has existed since childhood but which both father and son begrudgingly try to repair. Ted finds his father’s old writings, which are surprisingly good, and his love of the Boston Red Sox, who are on track to break the decades-long Curse of the Bambino that has kept them out of the playoffs. When Ted realizes that Marty’s health declines when the Red Sox lose and improves when they win, he sets out with Marty’s friends to hide any losing games to try and prod a miraculous recovery. As the plan seems to work, Ted also develops feelings for Mariana, which may finally turn his life around.

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The unique concept of Reverse the Curse starts quaint and cute, painting Marty and Ted as an odd-couple blend of crotchety patriarch and neer-do-well child. Still, the fun dynamic of the film’s first act soon segues into a more serious story full of emotional outbursts from all three main characters. This also transitions into scenes of Ted’s ridiculous plan to hide losing Sox games from his dad with ploys that would not have worked on the zaniest of old-school sitcoms. Duchovny cast Evan Handler, Jason Beghe, and Santo Fazio as Marty’s barbershop buddies who help hide newspapers, bribe teenagers, and make fake thunderstorms to further Ted’s scheme. If this had been the story’s main thrust, it may have worked as a decent comedy. But, as father and son get closer, thanks to the magic of nostalgia (and marijuana), the story shifts to Ted trying to help his father reclaim his long-lost love, played by Daphne Rubin-Vega. This equally cute subplot gives way to yet another as Marty and Ted embark on a road trip to the legendary 1978 game playoff between the Red Sox and the Yankees.

reverse the curse review duchovny
Reverse The Curse Review

The tone and narrative of Reverse the Curse is all over the place. There are flashes of brilliance throughout the film wasted by the uneven structure that cannot determine the tone it wants to set. The final act is emotionally resonant and almost saves the entire movie, but it struggles by still trying to inject comedy into moments that do not quite need it. Some of this may be due to Duchovny choosing to play Marty. At 63, Duchovny still does not look nearly old enough to portray his actual age convincingly. Couple that with the fact that Logan Marshall-Green is only sixteen years younger than Duchovny but playing a thirty-three character, and you can see some of the struggles with credulity. Marshall-Green is youthful enough that his charm works as Ted echoes a combination of Jeff Bridges as The Dude and Joaquin Phoenix from Inherent Vice. Marshall-Green is responsible for most of the comedy in the movie as the usually hilarious Stephanie Beatriz gets to flex her dramatic muscles to great effect. Beatriz and Marshall-Green have a nice and effortless chemistry, making their relationship a hallmark of Reverse the Curse.

David Duchovny is a better writer than he is director, and Reverse the Curse‘s main narrative works better than it should. Had the film retained the novel’s title, Bucky F*cking Dent, it may have resonated more than the generic moniker it is being released under. Duchovny is a workmanlike filmmaker and does not bring any distinctiveness to Reverse the Curse but focuses instead on performance, giving Logan Marshall-Green and Stephanie Beatriz enough space to roll with their characters. Most of the emotional heft in this film rings true, whereas the more elaborate machinations that are meant to make this movie feel quirky and lighthearted are where it is the weakest. Reverse the Curse wants to showcase baseball as a healer of wounds and relationships and almost gets there if David Duchovny could get out of his own way.

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Reverse the Curse is a better story than a movie, which may be why the novel was a bestseller. These interesting characters have layers that are not done justice in a movie that cannot figure out what it wants to be. David Duchovny would have been better served if he had cast someone else in the role of Marty and focused his attention behind the camera because there is something underneath the artificiality of this movie that could have been something better. There are some nice moments in this movie and an ending that brought a tear to my eye, but overall, this film needed to pick a lane. Logan Marshall-Green has the chops, literally and figuratively, to warrant more comedic roles in the future, while Stephanie Beatriz should be used dramatically on the big screen more often. Reverse the Curse does not strike out, but it is not a home run either.

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