Ryan Gosling in The Fall Guy Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Summer is a month away, but the summer blockbuster season has started. Over the next few weeks, we’ll see more and more big-budget entertainment features. The success of Top Gun: Maverick, Barbie, and Oppenheimer proved that audiences could still be lured into theatres in a post-pandemic, streaming-dominated world. 

The Fall Guy might not reach those lofty heights. But what an enjoyable way to start this magical time of the year. 

  • Do you like explosions?
  • Do you like car chases?
  • Do you like comeback stories?
  • Do you like boy-loses-girl stories?
  • Do you like stories with Taylor Swift songs, Australia, and dogs?

Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, and director David Leitch have a movie for you. If you don’t leave The Fall Guy with a smile, you hate fun, and your heart is two sizes too small. It’s a brisk amusement park ride where you’ll never look at your watch to check the running time. It’s so engaging that you’ll eagerly hang around for the wonderfully constructed end credits. That’s entertainment.

The plot differs from the 1980s television show. In the original, Lee Majors portrays Colt Seavers, a stuntman with a second job as a bounty hunter. In this reboot, Gosling portrays Colt Seavers, a down-on-his-luck stuntman who gets a second chance to work, this time in a film directed by his former girlfriend Jody (Blunt).

Yes, it’s a movie inside a movie.

As longtime Gosling fans know, this isn’t his first rodeo with this type of role. In Drive, the best movie of the 2010s, Gosling is a stuntman with a side gig as a getaway driver. That movie is very dark and very violent. The Fall Guy is light fare with cartoonish violence. Gosling’s Colt crashes cars, gets set on fire, and plummets from great heights. All with a wink, a smile, and a thumbs up to let everyone know he’s okay.

The twist is he’s not okay. While Colt adroitly handles challenges on the set, he’s faced with personal changes in real life. When the story kicks into gear, you wonder: How will Colt escape this mess? He’s got a puzzle to solve. Time is running out. And he must do so while trying to win back the love of his life.

Meanwhile, Blunt plays Jody as an exaggerated version of Greta Gerwig. Despite numerous obstacles and a conflict of interest with her top stuntman, she’s fully committed to her vision of this film. There’s a hilarious scene when she repeatedly makes Colt redo a scene over and over again. It’s the kind of maniacal perfection that David Fincher is famous for. And quite possibly an inside gag— one of many in The Fall Guy.

Leitch throws a lot at the audience. Some of the jokes are obvious, others more subtle. But while the plot is silly, the narrative doesn’t feel overly ridiculous. This is an ode to the unsung heroes of Hollywood. Leitch, a former stunt performer and coordinator, knows this territory well. Stuntmen and stuntwomen are vital to the industry. And yet, they are often treated as second-class citizens. There are no Oscars for the profession, even though Academy Awards are given for visual effects and sound.

Leitch, who directed Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, and Bullet Train, highlights the importance of these performers by jamming in every conceivable stunt and trick. The audience learns a lot because he shows a lot. You’ll come away with a greater appreciation of how dangerous and amazing their work is. The Fall Guy isn’t a typical reboot. It’s educational as well as entertaining.

A project of this magnitude and depth takes money. The budget for The Fall Guy was $140 million. The opening week box-office return of $28 million was slightly disappointing. However, a strong word of mouth could give it a boost.

After all, who hates fun?

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.