Fred Won't Move Out: Elliott Gould Clings to His Dignity

Anyone still hoping that Elliott Gould will end the string of schlemiels he has been playing since Bugsy will be bummed by his newest fogey in the otherwise authentic-seeming Fred Won't Move Out. Gould is nicely nuanced in Richard Ledes' story of two seniors being moved by son and daughter from home to assisted-living purgatory. But Gould, once an Indelible Icon of Cool, hasn't strutted for years. You play one fucking halfwit gangster, and you get typecast as dorks and codgers forever? It's not fair. The movie is another story. Sensitively written and directed by Ledes and gorgeously shot by Valentina Caniglia, Fred is an essential corrective to flaming shit like The Bucket List. There, old age's biggest dilemma is what sort of snappy outfit to wear while skydiving; here, Fred and wife are sick, senile, immobile. For this caregiver, the story rang true. Fred Melamed, the son, is the movie's secret weapon, a lumbering, funny presence who delivers the line "Bagels and lox killed more Jews than Hitler" with aplomb. He and Gould have real chemistry—especially when Dad retells jokes and son endures them. Still, Fred sometimes has a stiff American Playhouse quality and the overearnestness of a writing-workshop novella. Mostly, it captures how old age decimates even the people who don't suffer from it. As for Gould: Listen, could you be cool just one more time? There are many hip, old Jewish cats you could play. I've got this script about the last days of Allen Ginsberg . . . 

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