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Review: Barry Van Dyke drama ‘The Untold Story’ should have stayed that way

(L-R) - Barry Van Dyke, Nia Peeples and Jayden Mound in “The Untold Story (2019).” Credit: Ammo Cont
Barry Van Dyke, Nia Peeples and Jayden Mound in “The Untold Story.”
(Ammo Content)

There’s not much story to tell in “The Untold Story,” a bland, rather old-hat take on male reinvention and redemption. That it’s as watchable as it is proves a testimony to star Barry Van Dyke’s committed turn as Edward Forester, a once busy and famous actor whose career flatlined after some bad public behavior.

Instead of sending Edward on a more unique, freewheeling journey of self-discovery, director Shane Stanley, who co-wrote with dad Lee Stanley, rehashes too many tired, often implausible tropes in an attempt to box in his protagonist and wring out viewer sympathy. Even 2017’s similarly themed Burt Reynolds dramedy “The Last Movie Star,” shaky as it was, had more pep.

Thankfully, the Stanleys have infused Edward with some credible integrity and fortitude, which keeps him chugging forward despite being treated with egregious disdain by too many in his orbit. These folks include his sleazy agent (Jason Connery), prickly money manager (Joel Brooks), younger actress friend (Jordan Ladd) and, especially, Catarina (Nia Peeples), his mouthy, beleaguered neighbor in the cut-rate apartment complex where the strapped Edward is (improbably) forced to live.

Despite forays into Edward’s contrived flirtation with Catarina, his do-gooder activities with her young child (Jayden Mound) and too many examples of how the poor guy can’t catch a break (does his car really need to be broken into?), the film’s most meaningful through line involves a newbie writer-director (Miko Hughes) who hands Edward the movie role of a lifetime — only to have the evil “machinations” of Hollywood snatch it away.

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That’s where Edward’s said resilience will factor in, though it should be said that the film’s sketchy, clichéd portrayal of how the movie business works — or doesn’t — feels way past its sell date.

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‘The Untold Story’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

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Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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