Director: Shane Salerno
Studio: The Story Factory
Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, Judd Apatow
This documentary about J. D. Salinger represents everything the iconic The Catcher in the Rye novelist and short story writer wasn’t: Overblown. Trite. Gaudy. Cheap. Cheesy. Pandering. Worst of all: phony.
Salinger gave no press interviews during his lifetime, refused to let publishers print his photo on book jackets and repeatedly turned down offers for the film and stage rights to his work. That’s how allergic he was to b.s., how determined he was to live some semblance of an ordinary life. Filmmaker and biographer Shane Salerno, who also wrote the screenplays for Armageddon and Savages, reportedly spent almost a decade prepping his well-intentioned movie, interviewing Salinger intimates, contemporaries and fellow writers, Gore Vidal, Tom Wolfe, A. Scott Berg, Robert Towne and E. L. Doctorow among them. As good as some of these interviews are, the film is also pocked with cheap reenactments and pompous recurring images of a shadowy stand-in Salinger banging away on a typewriter and smoking up a storm.
If only the brilliant Salinger could somehow reach out from beyond the grave and exact his revenge.