‘Jake Squared’: Lead actor isn’t the life of this Fellini-like party
A movie review of “Jake Squared,” Howard Goldberg’s Fellini-like dramedy about a filmmaker (Elias Koteas) traveling through a fantasy-laced journey through his past. The film, confusing to the point of distraction, got 1.5 stars out of 4.
Special to The Seattle Times
Movie Review ★½
‘Jake Squared,’ with Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Kevin Railsback, Mike Vogel, Jane Seymour, Jennifer Jason Leigh. Written and directed by Howard Goldberg. 100 minutes. Rated R for language. Sundance Cinemas (21+).
Elias Koteas (“The Thin Red Line,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) is a fine actor. But he’s not necessarily the right actor to anchor a Federico Fellini-like, or Woody Allen-like, dramedy about a self-indulgent artist coming face to face with a lifetime of regret.
The miscasting of Koteas as the dominant voice and presence in Howard Goldberg’s “Jake Squared” — along with a script (by Goldberg) that is hard to follow and often boring — is the key reason this film is a chore to get through.
Koteas plays Jake, a 50-year-old movie director stewing over his checkered history with women and love. He decides to shoot an autobiographical film in his own home, casting a handsome actor (Mike Vogel) as a younger version of himself.
Jake chooses party scenes — complete with bikini-clad beauties in his hot tub — to be the main action for his film, though it is unclear why. In any case, the free-spirited atmosphere gives “Jake Squared” the Fellini-esque vibe Goldberg seeks, and the party quickly blurs into layers of time-warping, memory-based fantasy drawing Jake into a journey through his relationship history.
As provocative and cinematically interesting as that might sound, Goldberg doesn’t display the kind of control needed for this sort of meta-storytelling. His best ideas — having younger versions of Jake (played by Kevin Railsback and Koteas) simultaneously show up — are fun. Others, such as Jake’s best friend (Virginia Madsen) delivering a monologue into the camera (Jake’s camera? Goldberg’s?), are confusing.
Ironically (or perhaps not, given the subject), the most interesting part of “Jake Squared” is the female cast: Madsen, Jane Seymour, Jennifer Jason Leigh. Whether playing real women or illusions, they bring much-needed emotional clarity to this story.
Tom Keogh: email@example.com