Named after a Simon and Garfunkel song, The Only Living Boy in New York isn’t shy about being a movie that leeches from other, better pieces of art. This is confirmed during Jeff Bridges’s opening voice-over, which name-drops Yeats and Lou Reed; the movie goes on to reference The Graduate, Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna,” J.D. Salinger, and every Woody Allen film set in Manhattan—all in service of a dippy story about a young white guy who’s feeling kinda angsty about all of this “life” stuff.
Thomas (Callum Turner) has been friend-zoned by Mimi (Kiersey Clemons); he wants to be a writer but his wealthy book-publisher dad (Pierce Brosnan) is only marginally encouraging. When Thomas spies dad cheating on his Klonopin-chomping mom (Cynthia Nixon) with the mysterious Johanna (Kate Beckinsale), he unloads his frustrations onto his new neighbor (Bridges), who’s obviously a Famous Writer because he drinks red wine in the afternoon.
The movie traffics in cliché, and will make you resent the following: New York City, dinner parties, cocktail parties, gallery openings, museums, used bookstores, writers, taxicabs, white people, apartments, rain, the entirety of the English language. It’s not as bad as screenwriter Allan Loeb’s previous movie (the truly astonishing Collateral Beauty), but it’s close.
And yet there’s a scene halfway through that gives a sense of the direction a more daring movie might’ve taken. Character actor Bill Camp—playing a character we’ve not encountered before and will never see again—gets up at a wedding to give a drunken toast. His rambling, nonsensical monologue plays over a montage of the other characters doing their dumb shit, and it doesn’t make a lick of sense. It’s the only part of The Only Living Boy in New York that you’ll be too confused by to be actively rolling your eyes at.