The Fall Guy

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt star in a scene from the movie "The Fall Guy." (OSV News photo/Universal)

NEW YORK (OSV News) — Screwball comedies showcasing couples verbally duking it out in the battle of the sexes comprised a significant and often winning subgenre during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Whether the sparring partners were Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur or William Powell and Carole Lombard, audiences were likely to enjoy every round.

Such examples of amusing tension are comparatively rare these days, which makes the advent of “The Fall Guy” (Universal) a refreshing development. Although ostensibly an actioner — and a snappy one at that — director David Leitch’s loose adaptation of the eponymous 1980s TV series has even more appeal as a toothsome romantic comedy.

Unfortunately, however, the wit and engaging sentiment that characterize Drew Pearce’s script are offset by an excess of off-color dialogue. As a result, this bit of otherwise classy fun can only be endorsed for grown-ups.

After a near-fatal accident, veteran Hollywood stuntman Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) loses confidence in himself and leaves the film business. He also cuts off contact with Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt), the aspiring director he’d been dating, though he continues to carry a torch for her.

Having hit the skids and become a restaurant parking attendant, Colt is summoned back to the world of Tinseltown by producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham). She’s at work on the science fiction epic that will represent Jody’s feature debut.

The lavish project is under threat, however, as Gail eventually explains, because its lead, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) — the egotistical star for whom Colt used to substitute — has disappeared. Gail begs Colt to track the actor down and, with Jody’s welfare in mind, he complies.

As a cover for carrying out this surreptitious mission, Gail has arranged for Colt to join the set of Judy’s production. This offers Judy the opportunity to take sweet revenge on Colt for his ghosting of her.

The screenplay tends to turn Colt’s misdeed into more of an obstacle to reconciliation than it might represent in real life. But the path to reunion is a thoroughly enjoyable one to travel, especially as it leads through some savvy satire of the entertainment industry’s mannerisms.

Although one exchange in the dialogue can be interpreted as suggesting that Colt and Judy’s former liaison included a sexual component, this remains uncertain. As for what’s seen on screen, past or present, nothing of the sort transpires. Instead, they pursue their kicks by doing fast doughnuts in Colt’s truck.

While Pearce keeps his lovers away from the bedroom, he also lowers the tone with a constant barrage of S-words. It’s a shame that indulging in them necessarily restricts the appropriate audience for his sharp barbs and Leitch’s well-choreographed bumps.

The film contains considerable stylized violence, including gunplay, a possible offscreen premarital sexual relationship, several instances each of profanity and milder swearing, fleeting rough language, pervasive crude talk and obscene gestures. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.


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