Plot: Doc (Steve Carrell) is a Vietnam veteran who has had quite a tough year, first losing his beloved wife to cancer, then his son is killed in Iraq. Now Doc needs to venture to claim his son’s body, then travel to Arlington for the formal burial, but this prospect has him quite shaken. He has never felt so alone and in this kind of brutal experience, he wants to have someone by his side. As he has few options, he uses the internet to look up one of his friends from his time in Vietnam, a lively bar owner named Sal (Bryan Cranston). The two catch up on old times and Sal agrees to travel with Doc to another stop, a church where another fellow soldier is now a pastor, Reverend Mueller (Laurence Fishburne). Over dinner the three relive some of the old days and Doc reveals why he has looked them both, as he needs some support. Soon the trio head out to claim the body, but old resentments, buried lies, and new revelations threaten to stir even more trouble than any of them could imagine.
Entertainment Value: A spiritual sequel to The Last Detail, Last Flag Flying is a well crafted drama with an excellent cast and an acute sense of when to inject some humor into the blend. As this is such a character driven picture, it needed a great cast and this one is fantastic, with Steve Carrell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne in the three lead roles. This is one of Carrell’s most understated performances, as he really conveys the sense of loss and isolation of his role. Doc is the heart of the movie and Carrell nails the part, he is the balance that keeps the others in line and provides a capable anchor for the entire picture. Cranston is more salacious than usual, which is fun to watch and while he dials up the persona, it still works well. He is brash and confrontational, but still reads as relatable and likable. Fishburne is like the strong, stoic voice of reason and when he lets down his guard, he shows a lot of charm. But of course, the role calls for him to restrain himself behind his religious beliefs, so don’t expect too wild of an effort here from him. The three have good chemistry as well, which is crucial, since the bulk of the movie is about the group dynamics. A well written, well performed drama, Last Flag Flying is recommended.
No nakedness. Sal entertains us with an insightful rant about how penis used to stand up and watch him shave, but even though he hits on every woman in sight, there’s no sex in this one. No blood. This one is driven by dialogue and has no real violence, but stern conversations and confrontations. This is well written, but doesn’t have a lot of wild or quotable lines. Cranston’s sleazier moments are humorous, as is his penchant to mouth off to anyone he encounters, however. So the movie is able to balance humor and drama well and make it all work, but the score reflects the lack of outlandish, memorable, or quotable lines. No real craziness in this one. This is a drama with a sense of humor, but it never gets wild or colors outside the lines.
Overall Insanity: 0/10