Fuzzily conceived and indecisively executed, Harry & Son represents a deeply disappointing return to the director’s chair for Paul Newman. Cowritten and coproduced by the star as well, pic [suggested by the novel A Lost King by Raymond DeCapite] never makes up its mind who or what it wants to be about and, to compound the problem, never finds a proper style in which to convey the tragicomic events that transpire.
Opening scenes are perhaps the strongest, as Newman gets fired from his job as a Florida construction worker due to an ailment which momentarily blinds him. He goads his son into expanding his horizons beyond polishing cars and pretending to be a young Hemingway.
As presented, Newman’s character is in a position either to give up on life or make a fresh start, and perhaps film’s overriding frustration is that he goes nowhere. Structurally, it’s a mess.