My initial reaction to the first 15 minutes of A Glimpse Into the Mind of Charles Swan III was that it reminded me of something Wes Anderson would have directed. In film school. Before he really knew what he was doing. By the end of the film, my initial hunch was proven correct.
This is the story of an amazingly gifted and successful graphic artist named Charles Swan III (Charlie Sheen) whose life looks idyllic from the outside. Everything is there (money, success, love, sex, art, beauty) and it all fits together seamlessly. And then, suddenly, his lady love picks up and leaves. She has had enough. Enough of what? Of the nothingness of perfection.
Swan is then forced to look at his life and learn the tough lessons that are clouded by what he and the world around him identifies as success. Turns out he’s not so much a golden boy as he is prisoner of a gilded cage of ideas. Point noted.
We’ve seen this story before; life as it is, instead of as it is perceived to be. But the movie relies on too many gimmicky cutaways and musical jaunts (note: this is not an episode of Family Guy) to be taken seriously. The fact that it attempts to be an ironic commentary, complemented by fine work from Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and (above all) Patricia Arquette, doesn’t suffice for the weak writing. Sans all the gimmicks, there’s nothing much here except Charlie Sheen being snarky and bizarre.
Which, surprisingly, is nowhere near as interesting as you would imagine it would be.