Jared Leto has packed on a good 700 pounds to play the role of Salinger savant and Beatle murderer Mark David Chapman in J.P. Schaefer's directorial debut—which might as well be titled Bridget Jones' Diary 3: John Lennon Was a Goddamn Phony. Leto lisps and paunches his way through Schaefer's film, spewing entire paragraphs from Catcher in the Rye—always about ducks and movies and actors and, of course, those phonies—all while channeling Travis Bickle and Truman Capote (or maybe Philip Seymour Hoffman playing Capote), and, overall, doing a pretty knock-up job of not being Jordan Catalano.
Centered around the time Chapman moved to New York and started stalking Lennon outside of Lennon's apartment building, the Dakota, Chapter 27 focuses on Chapman's inner monologue of crazy talk and Holden Caulfied-isms to provide a running narrative to what would otherwise be a series of alternately depressing and funny "fat Jared Leto's got a gun" montages.
Although a case could be made against the film's slow pace and derivative mimicry, Schaefer winks and nods at the audience so often it's hard to believe that it all isn't part of the plan. In one scene, while waiting outside the Dakota, Chapman meets a girl named Jude (OBVIOUSLY), played by that smoker-voiced Lindsay Lohan, as well as a paparazzo named Paul (30 Rock's Judah Friedlander). During a conversation about Rosemary's Baby having been filmed in the building, Jude expresses her dislike for that film: "Nothing ever really happens until the end," she says. It feels like a welcome acknowledgment from Schaefer: "You see what I did there? I know you're a little bored and fidgety right now, but hang tight!" Jude's sentiment also possibly echoes criticisms of Catcher in the Rye, concerning Holden's mounting disillusionment—which ultimately leads to a somewhat anticlimactic crack-up, but not to the promised hint of suicide. (Other criticisms of Catcher in the Rye include Winona Ryder carrying it around in her tiny back pocket as a mopey teenager, and also Wes Anderson probably masturbating to it. But I digress.)
Leto's performance—aided immeasurably by his marvel of a belly—is totally worth watching, making Chapter 27 not only a better film than last year's slllooooow The Killing of John Lennon, but also a convincing argument for the Keep Jared Leto Fat and Marginally Talented movement.