Vic Edwards (Burt Reynolds) is an aging movie star whose best career days are well in the rearview mirror in the new movie The Last Movie Star. He’s pretty much resigned to talking about the glory days and wondering why he isn’t more loved.
One day he receives an invitation to a “film festival” in Nashville where he’s being given a lifetime achievement award. With no real reason to decline he heads down. With a young woman named Lil (Ariel Winter) as his guide and chauffeur, Vic finds there are worse ways to spend your days than telling old war stories to a bunch of young movie fans, thrilling them with tales of the old Hollywood ways. In addition to that, Vic decides to mend some personal fences before it’s too late.
Reynolds is stroking his beard thoughtfully in profile on the poster, beams of light seeming to come out from his face, the copy “The best is yet to come” at the top telling us that even though it’s an old man we’re looking at he’s still got some life left in him. It’s kind of a minimalist design in play here with lots of white space around the edge but it works really well to highlight Reynolds and make sure the audience is clear that it’s his show and his show alone.
After some archive footage of Vic (that’s actually of Reynolds), we see in the trailer that he’s now an old man who has received a note about being honored by a film festival in Nashville. Convinced it can’t hurt to go he arrives and finds his driver, a young lady who’s not thrilled with her assignment. The festival, it turns out, is just a local club of film enthusiasts who are ecstatic one of their honorees has actually shown up. Eventually he leans into it and uses the time to revisit some memories, engage with the fans and otherwise keep doing things on his terms.
I’ll admit, it’s kind of weird to see someone like Reynolds who’s been known for his physical presence, looking frail like this. The movie isn’t *about* Reynolds but there are certainly parallels between fact and fiction (reinforced by the use of real archival footage) that convey how we’re only barely staying behind the fourth wall. The star still has swagger and wit, which is what’s on display in the trailer.
Online and Social
A24 created a single bare-bones page for the movie that just has the trailer, poster, cast and crew list, and a story synopsis. The link to “Watch Now” offers a bunch of VOD storefronts where you can purchase the film if so inclined.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve seen, but it’s possible the studio ran some ads aimed at encouraging downloads I just haven’t been exposed to.
Media and Publicity
Reynolds hit the promotional circuit to talk about not just the movie but his career as a whole and how this fits into it. That included lots of his usual self-aggrandizing and swagger, which is what the whole thing is about anyway. Appearances on daytime and late night talk shows went along with feature profiles like this and this that positioned him as the last vestige of an old Hollywood where personality was the coin of the realm.
What’s clear in the campaign is that this movie is being positioned as Reynold’s career summation statement, a final bow before leaving the stage. He may have another role or two in him, but the meta-context of an actor who hasn’t been a box-office draw for 20 years playing an actor who hasn’t been a box-office draw for a while can’t be missed.
Like Vic, Reynolds obviously still has some fight in him though. The interviews he’s done prove he’s just as ornery as he ever was even if age has taken away a step or two. It may not find a big audience, part of the reason A24 is giving it a VOD-centric release, but it has the charm of its lead going for it.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.