The movie "Dog Years," filmed in Knoxville, premiered last weekend at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York. WBIR's Russell Biven was there, and was lucky enough to watch the movie and talk to the stars. Here's his review:
A good friend once told me, "Back in the day Burt Reynolds was like Brad Pitt on steroids."
I remember going with my dad to see Hooper, Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run, and I think the analogy is pretty accurate.
Reynolds was a man's man, a lady's man and a motion picture superstar.
Today, the 81-year old, who got his start playing a stunt cowboy at Maggie Valley in North Carolina, uses a cane to get around. He moves a little slower, with a little attention to each step, but you can still see the grit and strength in his face.
Ironically, in his latest film Dog Years, Reynolds portrays the aging movie star Vic Edwards, who's dealing with his celebrity star fizzling out and the trials that come with getting older.
The film is as much about Reynolds as the character he plays.
After being convinced by his friend Sunny, played by Chevy Chase, to attend a film festival in Nashville where he will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, Edwards quickly realizes it's a Podunk event put on in a bar by some of his obsessed fans.
He has his chauffeur for the film festival, Lil, played by Ariel Winter, take him back to the airport in her beat down version of a limousine. On the way he sees a sign for his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee.
He tells her to go there instead, and that's where the beauty of the film really comes to life. Edwards not only takes a walk down memory lane, but he also reconciles with people he has wronged while making his way to the top in the movie industry. He realizes there's a lot more to life than how people treat you. In the end, it's how you have treat others, and Reynolds does a masterful job of making this come across.
Throughout the movie, director Adam Rifkin weaves actual scenes from Reynolds old movies beautifully into the storyline, even allowing the older star to talk to his younger self.
"The Last Movie Star" comes to Knoxville
I won't ruin the ending for you, but I will say it's touching and has a great lesson about making amends and making the best out of each day.
There are some good laughs in this movie and some heartbreaking scenes as well. It does have language, but for those mature enough for that, it's definitely a movie worth seeing.
Rifkin, with help from co-producer Gordon Whitener, a Knoxville resident, does a fabulous job showing the beauty of East Tennessee throughout the film. As a Knoxvillian, I loved recognizing so many different places featured in the movie, and I think others from East Tennessee will as well. We can only hope Dog Years will be in theaters across America sometime soon so everyone else can enjoy it as well.