Brain Damaged

rex diminished Brain Damaged DIMINISHED CAPACITY
Running time 92 minutes
Written by Sherwood Kiraly
Directed by Terry Kinney
Starring Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda, Virginia Madsen, Dylan Baker, Bobby Cannavale, Louis C. K.

Diminished Capacity is a harmless but monotonous trifle about a baseball card. Matthew Broderick is making too many movies and giving the same performance in all of them. This time, he’s a Chicago newspaper editor named Cooper who suffers a brain concussion and gets demoted to proofreading comic strips. His neurologist says he’s got what they call “diminished capacity,” but he no longer throws up when he drives a car, so he goes home to visit his mother (the wonderful Lois Smith) and discovers that everyone in his hometown has diminished capacity, too—especially his Uncle Rollie (Alan Alda). Mom has reserved a room for him in a local loony bin, but there’s a waiting list. Sure, he’s crazy as a bedbug, but he’s also got a rare, valuable Chicago Cubs baseball card that is worth six figures. So Cooper, Uncle Rollie, Cooper’s old high-school girlfriend Charlotte (Virginia Madsen) and her precocious son pile into a station wagon and head for a nostalgia convention at Wrigley Field. Compared with artifacts like Hank Aaron’s autograph and the shoelaces Joe DiMaggio wore when he hit in 56 straight games, Uncle Rollie’s card is so priceless it has to be displayed behind glass. The rest of the movie is about the bidding war between a demented fan named Mad Dog McClure (Dylan Baker) and a crooked con man named Lee Vivyan (Bobby Cannavale). It’s as innocent and benign as a weenie roast, but the direction by Steppenwolf co-founder Terry Kinney shows some signs of intelligent life. As a devotee of the TV series Oz, I know what a dynamic actor Mr. Kinney is. And anyone who saw his recent production of Neil LaBute’s brilliant play Reasons to Be Pretty is well aware of his power as a stage director. But movies are a different ball game, and this is his first time at bat. He is heading for success, but in the future, I am hoping for something meatier than Diminished Capacity. It’s a start, but building an entire movie on a baseball card is like basing a modeling career on a facial mole.

rreed@observer.com