Thursday, January 13, 2022

Ray Donovan: The Movie

Ray Donovan's business handling other people’s trouble (as a “fixer’). For him, it is a really bad idea to mix business with family, but his thuggish father Mickey Donovan constantly puts him in that awkward position. The son intends to have it out with his loose cannon father, perhaps permanently David Hollander’s Ray Donovan: The Movie, the feature conclusion to the reasonably long-running series, which premieres tomorrow on Showtime.

If you never watched the series, Hollander’s opening montage is more likely to confuse than to illuminate. The crux of the deal is things have gotten really bad between Donovan and his father, but they are still family. Mickey Donovan made off to his old South Boston stomping grounds with a briefcase full of stolen bearer bonds, so Ray chased off after him. To do what, even he is not exactly sure.

The truth is the actual plot of
The Movie is pretty light and straightforward. However, the flashbacks to the formative moments of their father-son relationship should give Ray Donovan fans some Rosebud-style closure. Hollander, the former showrunner, had anticipated a final season to wrap up all the subplots, but a new corporate regime surprisingly axed the series. Remembering the importance of franchise content, they subsequently put the movie into the works. It definitely feels like a cut-and-paste job from the final series outline, but the cast remains fully committed and all kinds of colorful.

Indeed, it is easy to see why Liev (scourge of spellcheckers) Schreiber and Jon Voight had fans so thoroughly hooked. As the title character, Schreiber broods so hard you could use his forehead for Korean barbeque, while Voight is absolutely electric and also strangely sad as the older but none-the-wiser father. Bill Heck perfectly struts through the film as the younger but still erratic flashback Mickey. Eddie Marsan is also quite poignant as Donovan’s Parkinson’s-afflicted brother Terry, but the script by Hollander and Schreiber never gives him much to do.

It was an American tragedy when Secretary of Labor Raymond Donovan was speciously indicted. When he was inevitably acquitted, he famously asked: “which office do I go to to get my reputation back.” It always seemed unfair that this show dumped more dirt on the good name of Ray Donovan, but at least there was a strong moral dimension to the crime drama. In
The Movie, it takes on Biblical dimensions—sins of the father and all that.

Schreiber and Voight definitely put on a show and Alan Alda is quite effective in the small but critical role of Dr. Amiot, the fixer’s shrink, but there is no getting around the fact this film is almost exclusively for those who already spent seven seasons with the characters. Mostly recommended for the pre-existing fanbase,
Ray Donovan: The Movie premieres Friday (1/14) on Showtime.