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Demolition, which opened in theaters nationwide on April 8, is about a wealthy young finance guy named Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) who has it all, including a sleek glass-and-steel home in the suburbs and a beautiful wife – until, within the first few minutes of the film, she dies.
“I can’t even imagine how that must feel,” people say. But the problem is, neither can he.
The movie explains that it’s because he hasn’t felt anything for years, taking his entire life, including his wife, for granted. And after she’s gone, he strangely feels nothing at all.
But even though he supposedly feels nothing, he believes her death gives him the right to become a complete a-hole. Not that he wasn’t one before, but now he’s hell bent on being the best a-hole he can possibly be. He eventually stops going to work, and deals with his grief by purchasing a bulldozer and demolishing the house that he once shared with his now dead wife – hence, leading Erik Henriksen to sum up Demolition as a story about “how rich people grieve.”
Davis’ soul-searching is “cheaply engineered,” writes The Playlist’s Kevin Jagernauth.
“Coming to grips with the loss of your wife when you have no job to report to, or child to raise, or even bills to worry about certainly makes these endeavors easier. Davis’s road is paved with pain, to be sure, but otherwise, there are few other obstacles for him to overcome.”
Gyllenhaal has had few misses in his career, but even his best efforts aren’t enough to save this movie from itself, says the Chicago Sun Times’ Richard Roeper.
“What a mess. What a pretentious, uneven, off-putting, not-nearly-as-clever-as-it-thinks-it-is MESS,” he writes.
Giving it just half a star, Roeper adds, “On the few occasions when Demolition sheds its shallow cynicism, it’s treacly and manipulative. This is one of those movies made by smart people about smart people that gives the audience no credit.”
Ouch. With a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s not all bad. In fact, Vince Mancini of FilmDrunk calls it a “strangely enjoyable drama.”
But you might want to wait and watch this one at home.