Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Retro Movie Review: Seize The Day (1986) #RobinWilliams

Seize The Day
Cast: Robin Williams, Jerry Stiller
Genre: Drama

Plot: When failing salesman Tommy Wilhelm (Robin Williams) loses his job, his life starts to fall apart. His wife Margaret divorces him and his disappointed father belittles him. Tommy decides to move to New York City for a job set up by his friend Dr Tamkin still believing he has the skills to be a top salesman. When prospects in New York do not improve for Tommy, he fights for the little work he can find.


'Angsty Robin Williams Does Not Make For A Great Robin Williams Movie'

Seize The Day was Robin Williams's third attempt at dramatic acting, after The World According to Garp and Moscow on the Hudson. The story here is similar to the one in Death of a Salesman with John Malkovich and Dustin Hoffman and gives Robin the opportunity to showcase more of his dramatic acting abilities (especially towards viewers who'd thought that The World According to Garp was a one-off exception). 

It was Williams's presence and the fact that he starred in this movie that got me interested in knowing this film. As a Robin Williams fan, who'd never seen it before until 2 years later, I wanted to find out what it was like. I was curious, and even if he does well with the material he was given- as dreary and depressing as it was- he deserved better movies than this so-called 'effort'. 

The story is unquestionably sad - Williams plays Tommy Wilhelm: a struggling salesman who loses his job and with that, his life starts to crumble, his wife loses faith in him and still he goes out of his way to make amends. 

As I tried to get into the movie, nothing about it was remotely interesting and watchable; Robin's performance is good, but his character Tommy is angsty, moody and always had that serious and depressed look on his face. 

This is a Robin Williams movie, tailor- made specifically for non-Robin Williams fans: the very people who aren't keen on his over -the- top wackiness and fun side, who prefer to see him take on more serious roles. And not a typical Robin-like performance either. But this serious role, as good as he gives it 110% in terms of effort here, is seriously hampered by a dreary plot and narrative and made-for-TV production values. The image/video quality of this movie, given this, came out in 1986 is exceedingly poor and is truly one of the worst I have witnessed. Especially given there have been many other movies released that year that looked vastly superior to this. Even The Best of Times and Club Paradise - Robin's other movies released that yearlooked slightly better. If this had been made in the mid to late '70s, that would have been understandable. But here, that is just almost inexcusable. 

In fact, almost every single thing about this movie is poor and dreary. The film consists of scenes of Robin's character Tommy Wilhelm depressed, downtrodden, smoking cigarettes & uttering bland dialogue, so bland and with the movie being so bland, it would put one to sleep. It made me fall asleep several times. And depressing to boot as well. All along, I was hoping for something exciting, interesting, fun or amusing to happen, but it never happened. The film just didn't seem to go anywhere at all and the story itself was difficult to follow and ended on a bizarre note. Tommy's wife is a horrible person, however. Seriously, the people who watched this movie and think this is one of Robin's best efforts alongside Good Morning, Vietnam, Awakenings, The Fisher King, Good Will Hunting, I'm sorry but I have to disagree with you lot. 

I know some will say it helps if you read the book: but with a talent such as Robin in this film, one would expect it to be good. But it is not. One needn't need to have read the book to watch this movie and decide for themselves whether or not s/he truly enjoyed it. Robin Williams has starred and appeared in movies throughout his career that not many people have heard of, and whilst this one falls into that bracket, it is also not one you will find on many Robin Williams's fans lists of favourite movies. It's certainly not on mines and it's not an enjoyable one for me personally, either. 

Even more strangely, Seize The Day has been labelled as a dark comedy, which surely must be a mistake - ultimately, there was rarely anything amusing about it, as Robin Williams played it straight in his performance. 

In my review of Dead Poets Society, I mentioned that that film and Seize The Day are the two most boring films of his that I have seen - although Williams performance as English professor, John Keating is way better. With the latter, that opinion still stands. 


Pros +

- Robin Williams's performance is good  

Cons -

- Awful production values and atrocious picture quality for a film that was made in 1986 

- Robin's character is too moody and angsty
- Dull and dreary narrative and dialogue
- Depressing film to boot 
- Lacking in interesting and exciting moments and scenes

Final Verdict:

This surreal look at usually funny Robin Williams trying out his acting chops by taking on a more dramatic and yet angsty role is sadly not a very memorable one. This is a very plodding, slow-paced movie lacking in excitement and interesting scenes and is frankly depressing and mundane throughout. Thankfully, he has gone on to obtain much better dramatic movie roles than this one after Seize The Day.

The low rating I'm awarding to this film is not because I was expecting a comedy: why would I? In fact, I was expecting this to be as interesting as The Fisher King, Good Morning Vietnam, Awakenings as a drama - but it's not. 

As good as Robin's acting efforts were, this is not enough to save this movie from sheer boredom.

This effort will rank alongside my least favourite movies he has done besides Being Human, Bicentennial Man, What Dreams May Come, Cadillac Man and Toys and is just as worse as many of his post - 2000 movie offerings. 

Seize The Day is perhaps worth seeing only once - but after that, never again. 


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