KSL Movie Review: ‘Ezra’ is delightful and a bit far-fetched

May 31, 2024, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:29 pm

ksl movie show host steve salles next to ezra movie poster...

A stand-up comedian living with his father struggles to co-parent his autistic son Ezra with his ex-wife. When faced with difficult decisions, father and son set out on a cross-country road trip.

Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY —I have to confess, I really liked this movie, but I’ve never given out three A’s to consecutive films in the 30-plus years I’ve been reviewing movies, so forgive me, just know it’s an excellent film as well.

I’m always blown away when I see a story about a kid on the autism spectrum, who really is “neurodiverse” (new word for me). William Fitzgerald, who plays Ezra, is such a delightfully genuine young man that you just hope the surrounding cast doesn’t screw it up. 

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Fortunately, his father Max (Bobby Cannavale) who plays a struggling stand-up comedian, his mother Jenna (Rose Byrne) who’s trying to protect both Ezra and the complicated family dynamic and Ezra’s crusty grandfather Stan (Robert De Niro) who wasn’t the best example of fatherhood for his own son Max, are all brilliant in this – with special note to Cannavale, who does his best work here. 

Ezra has been acting up in his regular school, so Jenna floats the idea of sending him to a special needs environment, which Max the dad is firmly against. Max’s agent (Whoopi Goldberg) has booked an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show for her struggling comic in a few weeks, but Max will have to find his own way from New York to Los Angeles and thinks it might be a good idea to drag Ezra out of his new school and take him on this cross-country trip.

It’s an irresponsible move that forces Jenna to request an Amber Alert and badger Max’s father Stan to tell her where they’re going so she can get Ezra back home safe. In the meantime, they become wanted fugitives, stop off at his brother’s (Rainn Wilson) wilderness hippie pad and even swing by an old girlfriend’s (Vera Farmiga) farmhouse to talk to a horse.

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All the while, Max insists he needs his “mojo” Ezra with him, but the confused young man just wants to go home. It’s all played for purpose and fun, but the big picture suggests this is not going to go well for anyone involved.

De Niro gets to make an impassioned plea to his son at a coincidental, middle-of-nowhere gas station, which was an excellent speech, but he says nothing to Jenna that he’s made contact with the guys.  

Plot-wise useful. Practically unconscionable. 

The movie reaches its far-fetched, dramatic destination and it’s okay, but thankfully the kid pulls it all together, while the grownups are fidgeting around with how to wrap up this third act. So I guess, after further consideration, I’m not as high on this movie now than when I started this review. It’s all a process I guess. “Ezra” is still pretty dang good. 

EZRA (B+) Rated R for language, some sexual references and drug use. Starring Bobby Cannavale, William Fitzgerald, Rose Byrne, Robert De Niro and Whoopi Goldberg. Directed by Tony Goldwyn (“Conviction” “The Last Kiss”) – filmed in New York. Running time: 101 minutes.

The KSL Movie Show with Andy Farnsworth and Steve Salles airs Fridays on KSL NewsRadio from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow the show on Facebook, and join The KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500.

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KSL Movie Review: ‘Ezra’ is delightful and a bit far-fetched