by Jeff Niesel
After his debut as the dopey Ben on the late '90s TV show Felicity (he was the guy that Felicity followed to NYU), Scott Speedman has had a number of film roles. While he’s had major parts in Underworld (and Underworld: Evolution), he’s more often than not cast in supporting roles. Barefoot, an indie flick in which he’s the main star, shows why he’s just not a good leading man. It might be that the material isn’t all that great, but Speedman just doesn’t give a compelling performance in the movie. It opens on Friday at Digiplex Solon Cinema 16.
In the film, Speedman plays Jay Wheeler, the prodigal son of a wealthy business. In the movie’s opening segment, we see just how shitty his life really is. Even though he spent the night with some unnamed hottie, he’s in big trouble with a bookie that threatens his life if he doesn’t pay him back the tens of thousands of dollars that he owes him. He's been banned from the local strip club. And he’s constantly irritating the warden (J.K. Simmons) of the mental hospital where he works as a janitor. When he decides to reconnect with his parents and attend his brother’s wedding, he desperately tries to find a date. He ends up taking Daisy (Evan Rachel Wood), a cute mental patient who's been institutionalized because she “hears voices.” Needless to say, things don’t go so smoothly at the wedding. To add to his woes, Jay’s got the cops on his ass since he essentially kidnapped Daisy from the mental hospital. Like a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, the two take great measures to avoid the cops as they criss-cross their way across the country. Predictably enough, a romance blossoms.
If this all sounds a bit too preposterous, that’s because it is. While he’s still got abs of steel even as he approaches 40, Speedman is incapable of acting with any depth. He never makes us feeling any sympathy for his character, and Wood plays Daisy as if she’s kind of deep daze. That’s probably what the role requires, but she just isn’t very convincing as the alternately confused and coherent character. And there’s something about Stephen Zotnowski’s script that just doesn’t ring true. No need to schlep out to Solon to catch this one.