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The Last Movie Star Blu-ray + Digital Review

The Last Movie Star (2018) movie poster The Last Movie Star

Theatrical Release: March 30, 2018 / Running Time: 104 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Adam Rifkin

Cast: Burt Reynolds (Vic Edwards), Ariel Winter (Lil McDougal), Clarke Duke (Doug McDougal), Ellar Coltrane (Shane McAvoy), Nikki Blonsky (Faith Cole), Juston Street (Bjorn), Al-Jaleel Knox (Stuart Muckler), Kathleen Nolan (Claudia Schulman), Chevy Chase (Sonny)

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For twelve consecutive years from 1973 to 1984, Burt Reynolds ranked among the top ten money making stars in Quigley Publishing's annual list composed from exhibitor questionnaires. Unlike many of the others who ranked alongside him -- Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, John Travolta, Sylvester Stallone -- Reynolds never really enjoyed a renaissance to keep him popular in the decades since then. The one big opportunity he had to connect with modern moviegoers -- Paul Thomas Anderson's much-admired 1997 drama Boogie Nights -- earned him the only Oscar nomination of his career.
But he fought with Anderson behind the scenes and hated the movie, so the last twenty years of his life were spent in thankless, low-profile work for television and non-theatrical film. A few of Reynolds' 21st century credits were seen, including a turn in Adam Sandler's 2005 remake The Longest Yard and the same summer's The Dukes of Hazzard. Most were not.

Selling merely an estimated 1,500 tickets, The Last Movie Star was one of the largely unseen Reynolds projects. This one hailed from hip arthouse distributor A24 and Adam Rifkin, a filmmaker who has directed (Detroit Rock City, The Chase) or written (Small Soldiers, Mouse Hunt, Underdog) a few movies people have seen over the past thirty years.

No one paid much attention to Last Movie Star during its three-week run last spring that peaked at five theaters. After Reynolds passed away in early September, though, it is very easy to view this as his swan song, his final leading role in a vehicle that seems quite personal, if not downright autobiographical.

Burt Reynolds shares the screen with his younger self in a scene from "The Last Movie Star" making use of the actor's "Smokey and the Bandit."

Reynolds plays Vic Edwards, a stuntman who became the biggest movie star in Hollywood in the 1970s. Now he's 82 years old, achy, and a functioning alcoholic. Invited to received a lifetime achievement award at the International Nashville Film Festival, Vic agrees to attend on the encouragement of his friend, fellow has-been Sonny (Chevy Chase). Erroneously believing he's following in the footsteps of Clint Eastwood and Robert De Niro,
Vic's expectations are far from met, from flying coach to being put up in a dinky hotel to being assigned the utterly unprofessional, barely clothed Lil McDougal (Ariel Winter, "Modern Family") as chauffeur and personal assistant.

The film festival is even more rinky-dink than the hotel. It is run at a bar by Lil's older brother Doug (Clark Duke) and his best friend Shane (Boyhood's Ellar Coltrane), two starstruck young men who grew up watching and loving Vic's movies. While hitting the drinks hard, Vic briefly placates his hosts by answering questions about his old credits. Then, he hits the road with Lil for a spontaneous trip down memory lane to various places of meaning in his hometown of Knoxville.

It's sad seeing Reynolds, the '70s definition of cool, looking frail and starring in a movie that is probably a lot worse than he realizes. At the same time, there's something nice about getting to see a Hollywood legend of advanced years and declining opportunities sinking his teeth into a meaty lead role that hits close to home. How close? Well, writer-director Rifkin uses visual effects to insert the old Reynolds into someof the actor's most famous movies, including Smokey and the Bandit and Deliverance.

Seeing him share the screen with his younger self is as much fun as Last Movie Star gets. But at least it gets better as it goes on. Vic opens up to Lil about his past including his first marriage. She shares with him her ongoing Instagram love triangle drama and he imparts some of his bad boy's wisdom.

Apparently, The Last Movie Star hit Blu-ray and DVD from A24 home video partner Lionsgate three days before it opened in theaters, which is one way to do it, I guess.

The Last Movie Star: Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as DVD ($19.98 SRP) and on Instant Video


It's clear this is a low-budget movie. Still, it looks pretty good on Blu-ray, a few of its visual effects (namely, the generational Reynolds multiplying scenes) do stand out for not looking as great as the rest, but generally, the picture stays sharp, clean, and film-like. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix is also satisfactory.

Writer-director Adam Rifkin wears his Burt Reynolds appreciation on his chest in his "The Best Is Yet to Come" interview. Chevy Chase makes an appearance as clips play over a sea of Vic Edwards headshots on The Last Movie Star's Blu-ray menu.


Extras begin with an audio commentary by writer-director Adam Rifkin.

He may be a 30-year veteran of the business but he still gushes like an excited first-timer, speaking about what's on screen or on the soundtrack to an almost comical degree. From green screen wizardry to stunt doubles to patching together shots filmed in different locations, Rifkin kind of assumes you've never heard a commentary or any filmmaking information before. I can't imagine there are many people out there who will share Rifkin's enthusiasm.

On the video side, we get "The Best Is Yet to Come: Adam Rifkin on The Last Movie Star" (17:05). Playing like a condensed version of the commentary, this interview explains the project getting funded "overnight, after seven years", how Rifkin's motivation for the movie was getting Reynolds some newfound appreciation, how a lot of Reynolds' character is drawn from his real life, how excited Chase was to meet and act with Reynolds, and how Tennessee came to be the celebrated filming location.

"Deleted Scenes" gives us a reel running 12 minutes and 47 seconds altogether. Presented without introductions, commentary, or context, the deleted bits offer a corny road confrontation, unused bits from Vic's grocery store shopping and flirting, Lil getting a parking ticket at the airport, a flashback from Vic's childhood triggered by a look at his old bedroom, a hotel nightmare, some extended Vic-Lil car conversations, and a terrible post-festival comeuppance scene.

Trailers does not hold Last Movie Star previews, but instead replays the disc-opening reel of full theatrical trailers for The Disaster Artist, Lady Bird, The Florida Project, The Vanishing of Sidney Hall, and The Ballad of Lefty Brown.

The menu plays clips over a stack of Vic Edwards headshots while folksy score plays.

Though the cover claims this is a Blu-ray + Digital edition, no insert accompanied the plain blue disc inside the slipcovered, eco-friendly keepcase. Speaking of false claims, the packaging's "approx. 94 minutes" runtime understates the film's runtime by a full ten minutes after the long credits scroll is tallied.

Vic Edwards (Burt Reynolds) proudly holds his lifetime achievement award at the tender end of "The Last Movie Star."


The Last Movie Star is very much a fitting celebration of and swan song for Burt Reynolds. The movie housing his presumably last lead role is a bit corny and formulaic, but those who appreciate the actor won't mind enduring the few bumps in the road to enjoying Reynolds' talent and life. Lionsgate's Blu-ray is a basic affair whose extras you most likely can live without seeing. Though mine was missing it, I assume most copies do include the digital copy advertised.

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Related Reviews:
The Hero The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez Nashville Grandma Venus Our Very Own
Burt Reynolds: Physical Evidence The Golden Girls: The Complete Second Season The Player
Clark Duke: A.C.O.D. A Merry Friggin' Christmas A Thousand Words | Ellar Coltrane: Boyhood
Ariel Winter: Modern Family: The Complete First Season | Chevy Chase: Caddyshack Lovesick Vacation Hot Tub Time Machine
Written by Adam Rifkin: Underdog

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Reviewed November 18, 2018.

Text copyright 2018 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2018 Lionsgate, Whitener Entertainment Group, Mandt Bros. Productions, and A24.
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