Kevin Kline's prissy, stentorian-voiced Henry Harrison, a playwright manqué who lives in a seedy apartment in a Manhattan brownstone, explains to his new roommate, Louis ( Paul Dano), that he is an "extra man" who has cultivated the city's richest widowed grande dames and won a place at their tables and sometimes their Palm Beach guest rooms. What lifts him above a mere "walker," he says, is his "wit, intelligence and uncommon joie de vivre."
An enigmatic eccentric, Henry does in fact possess these qualities, and the deft ways in which Kline mines the comic valor in the man anchors writers-directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman's wryly comic "The Extra Man." Adapted from the Jonathan Ames novel, the film is too precious around the edges, but it gets somewhere. Henry may be its dominating presence, but the film is Louis' story — of how a shy, troubled young man, thrown in the company of oddballs and strong personalities that capture his imagination, at last works out his identity.