Pure, unadulterated mediocrity is achieved by Diminished Capacity, whose contrivances and corniness indicate its own limited intellectual faculties. In this paint-by-numbers snoozer, Chicago newspaper editor Cooper (Matthew Broderick) returns to his rural Missouri home to care for his increasingly senile uncle Rollie (Alan Alda), who thinks that fish are writing poetry on his typewriter and likes to dry his socks with a portable gas stove. Rollie is slowing down mentally, though his dementia-addled brain isn’t any less sharp than Cooper’s, as the middle-aged Chicagoan recently suffered a third-degree concussion trying to break up a fight between his married friends—an incident so hastily dramatized that it makes little sense—and now has severe memory impairment. They’re a perfectly handicapped pair and enjoy some cutsie misadventures once they decide to travel back to the Windy City with Cooper’s old flame, recently divorced mom Charlotte (Virginia Madsen), to sell Rollie’s ultra-rare baseball card at a conveniently timed memorabilia show. Alda enthusiastically personifies disheveled kookiness while Broderick exudes the slightly befuddled, uptight blandness that has become his stock and trade, and their performances—as well as that of Dylan Baker as an insanely obsessed, long-suffering Cubs fan—help keep Terry Kinney’s film (based on Sherwood Kiraly’s book) from being a total chore. Yet for every adequate turn, there’s a correspondingly limp one, whether it be Madsen as the dull-as-dirt love interest, a profanity-free Louis C.K. as the friend who caused Cooper’s head injury, or Bobby Cannavale as the nasty baseball card dealer who tries to swindle Rollie out of his prized possession. Slapsticky hijinks are the story’s inevitable destination, at which point treasured memories are trumpeted as more valuable than money. That’s nice. But nicer still would have been for Diminished Capacity to offer up something more memorable than a bunch of dim cartoon characters whose stumbling and bumbling makes the Cubs’s century-long ineptitude seem charming by comparison.
- Terry Kinney
- Sherwood Kiraly
- Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda, Virginia Madsen, Dylan Baker, Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K.
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