NO OTHER ACTOR can strike the balance between charming and slimy as well as Michael Douglas, and in Solitary Man he finds the common ground between his two best roles: Wall Street's corrupt arbitrageur Gordon Gekko, and Wonder Boys' loveable pothead professor Grady Tripp. Here, Douglas is Ben Kalmen, a used car salesman who's made some rotten choices, losing both his chain of dealerships and his wife Nancy (Susan Sarandon). About to emerge on the far end of middle age, Ben's turned into a relentless hound dog, bedding almost every young girl he can and aimlessly bouncing between the people in his life who still put up with him, including his long-suffering daughter Susan (The Office's Jenna Fischer).
When Allyson, the teenage daughter of Ben's current fling Jordan (Mary-Louise Parker, hilarious and tough as nails) needs a chaperone for her interview with an elite Boston-area college, that responsibility falls to Ben. Allyson—played by Imogen Poots (you can only get away with a name like Imogen Poots when you look as good as Imogen Poots)—quickly ditches Ben on campus, but Ben strikes up an unlikely friendship with nerdy student Daniel (Jesse Eisenberg), and there's a wonderful sequence in which old dog Ben teaches clueless Daniel how to hit on girls.
Ben's a total bastard, but you kind of love him anyway, and you love watching him fall completely to pieces over the course of Solitary Man. A few false notes are struck—Sarandon's character is too saintly to be believed—but the performances across the board are exceptional, including a surprisingly heartfelt role from Danny DeVito as Ben's long-lost best friend. Still, Douglas is the main reason to watch Solitary Man—and believe me, he's really worth watching.