Tim Robbins Goes Funny in Noise

A nutty performance in a too-busy movie

Tim Robbins should get out and stretch those funny bones more often, if it results in a performance as luggishly nutty as he gives in this likable—if intellectually overstuffed—urban comedy from writer-director Henry Bean. Robbins plays David Owen, an attorney unhinged by street noise in his tony Manhattan neighborhood, whose idea of good citizenship is to take a hammer to the windows of cars with runaway alarm systems—which loses him his job and his marriage to a loving wife (Bridget Moynahan, intelligently wry) and puts him at odds with New York’s blowhard mayor (a wily William Hurt). It also gives him exponentially increasing satisfaction—not to mention popularity among the similarly afflicted—as a local vigilante, the Rectifier. Bean, who’s written many thrillers and brought us Ryan Gosling as a Jewish Nazi in The Believer, has made an action comedy of ideas, for which I thank him in principle, since action and ideas rarely coincide at the movies. But Noise has too many warring genres on the boil and too many thoughts jockeying for supremacy. I’m still trying to figure out how Hegel got in there, other than to facilitate a surfeit of between-the-sheets discussions about power and responsibility between David and a pneumatic, enigmatic young Russian (Margarita Levieva), whose function in the movie is exactly . . . what?

 
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