Diminished Capacity (2008): Terry Kinney’s Bittersweet Comedy, Starring Matthew Broderick

Sundance Film Fest 2008 (Premieres)–Terry Kinney’s bittersweet comedy “Diminished Capacity,” starring Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda and Virginia Madsen, was adapted for the screen by Sherwood Kiraly from his novel of the same name, with additional material from Doug Bost.

“Diminished Capacity” had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and recently screened as the opening night at the Gen Art Film Festival in New York . IFC Films will release the film in Los Angeles and New York on Friday, July 4, followed by a national roll out.

The semi-melancholy, quasi-witty tale centers on a Chicago newspaper editor Cooper (Broderick), who suffers a debilitating concussion that takes him from the political pages to the comic strips. Looking for answers, he travels home to rural Missouri, where his aging Uncle Rollie (Alda) is on the verge of losing his home and has memory problems of his own–what doctors call a case of diminished capacity.

When Rollie throws a valuable Chicago Cubs baseball card into the mix, the two men, along with Cooper’s high school sweetheart, Charlotte (Madsen), head to a memorabilia expo to make the deal of a century–and the picture becomes a routine road comedy.

As the muddled men–slow and slower–dive headfirst into a snake pit of slick salesmen, including a crooked dealer (Bobby Cannavale) and a rabid fan (Dylan Baker), they explore the world of nostalgia and the value of their own memories–and by implication, ours too.

Set in an interesting locale–the world of baseball cards–the yarn occasionally offers sharp observations and witty humor, but not enough to make it a good picture.

With this picture, Tony award-nominated actor and Steppenwolf Theatre Company co-founder Terry Kinney makes his directorial feature debut. Perhaps a reflection of his own background, combined with lack of directorial skills, Kinney has let his talented ensemble act all over the place, with no restrain and discipline. This is particularly the case of Alda and Broderick, both of whom have done much better work in other comedies.

“Diminished Capacity,” which also stars Lois Smith and Louis C.K., is produced by Plum Pictures Celine Rattray, Galt Niederhoffer and Daniela Taplin Lundberg.