Since “Pineapple Express,” “Your Highness” and “The Sitter,” filmmaker David Gordon Green seems to have turned his back on mainstream comedy, cranking out the kind of quirky, indie fare that he made his name with. But his latest film, “Manglehorn,” is no “Joe,” Green’s rave-worthy, underrated vehicle for Nicolas Cage, who delivered the best performance of his career in that 2013 film.
In “Manglehorn,” a greasy-haired, unshaven Al Pacino plays the title character, a small-town Texas locksmith embittered by a lost love and estranged from his sleazy financier son, Jacob (Chris Messina). Though the character is meant to be somewhat sympathetic — because of his flirtation with a cheery bank teller (Holly Hunter) — Manglehorn comes across as off-puttingly self- absorbed, despite his devotion to a sick pet cat. Sure, there’s an undeniable pleasure from watching Pacino and Hunter work the screen, but the syrupy, symbol-heavy script by first-time feature writer Paul Logan is weighed down further by cliches and false notes.
Only this line, delivered by Manglehorn to Jacob after a failed attempt at reconciliation over lunch, rings true: “If I want to hang around with a jerk, I’ll just go home, stare at the mirror and talk to myself.”
PG-13. At Cinema Arts Theatre. Contains some coarse language, a sexual situation and scenes of a bloody car accident and veterinary surgery. 97 minutes.