How YOU doin?

How YOU doin'?

Auto Focus is decent enough.  It stars Greg Kinnear as Bob Crane (from Hogan’s Heroes), with Willem Dafoe as his creepy friend John Carpenter, and Maria Bello as his lover and then second wife.  And with Michael McKean and Ed Begley, Jr. in there, and the inspired choice of Kurt Fuller (Russell Finley from Wayne’s World) as the guy who played Klink, you know the cast is solid.  And it tells the story of Crane’s addiction to sex, so there’s that.

I just don’t understand why the movie was made.  It doesn’t particularly tell the story of Crane’s struggle with his addiction, as one might expect.  It doesn’t really tell the story of the impact his addiction had on his life or his family.  Sure, it is addressed, but not fully.  It doesn’t really tell the story of Crane’s increasingly complex relationship with Carpenter, not really.

Instead we get more: “Just the facts, ma’am.”  Here’s Crane before he found uber-success, having troubles at home (with his first wife, as played by Rita Wilson).  Then Crane embarks on Hogan’s Heroes.  Now he meets Carpenter.  Here is how Crane is introduced into the world of extramarital relations.  Then his addiction deepens.  He meets his future second wife.  Hogan’s Heroes comes to end, he struggles to find work elsewhere, and he’s still addicted to sex.  Willem Dafoe is creepy.  Crane finally, maybe decides to turn over a new leaf, and then he’s murdered, possibly by Carpenter.  And that, basically, is the whole movie.

Not to sound like an English teacher, but I never really felt like I was being told why I should care.  The rote telling of Crane’s story doesn’t really delve into the psyche of any of the characters, including (and especially) Crane.  Heck, you got Willem Dafoe as a creepy dude.  Let him be a creepy dude!  And Crane’s murder is treated as an afterthought.  Just seems like a poor decision to strip almost all emotion from Crane’s story.

Three Stars

Trailer after the jump: