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Review: 'Fred Won't Move Out' is neither here nor there

Richard Ledes' tale of aging parents is based on his life, but the telling lacks emotional charge.

September 27, 2012|By Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
  • Elliott Gould in "Fred Won't Move Out."
Elliott Gould in "Fred Won't Move Out." (Rainwater Films )

Grounded in the real-life experiences of writer-director Richard Ledes, "Fred Won't Move Out" centers on the efforts of two adult children to persuade their aging parents to leave the home where they've lived for 50 years.

But the filmmaker's personal connection to the story — he even shot the movie in the house where he grew up — fails to give "Fred Won't Move Out" an added emotional charge, and the drama simply feels directionless and flat.

Elliott Gould stars as Fred, whose wife, Susan (Judith Roberts), is suffering from dementia. He's foggy but still lucid enough to express his unhappiness with his son and daughter (Fred Melamed and Stephanie Roth Haberle), who believe they are doing their best to prepare their parents for impending changes.

Gould's layered performance shifts nimbly between confusion and anger, and there is recognizable pain throughout Ledes' film. Yet it never pushes through to anything beyond a surface portrait.

Ledes himself appears in a brief scene with Melamed's character (the one modeled most directly on himself), which seems unnecessary. It also points to one of the movie's most nagging problems: Stuck somewhere between personal memoir and universal truth, "Fred Won't Move Out" ends up being neither.

"Fred Won't Move Out." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes. At Laemmle's Fallbrook 7, West Hills.

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