'Knocking' begins well but wanders off


Don't Come Knocking presents its audience with an intriguingly dysfunctional family, and a handful of absurdist laughs. But it rarely strikes the right tone and ultimately falls short of what one would expect from a collaboration between director Wim Wenders and writer Sam Shepard.

The film begins as yet another look at the shallowness of Hollywood and the relentlessly formulaic product it dumps on an undemanding public (a theme that ought to be retired immediately, lest it become a cliche itself). Shepard, dressed in the sort of gaudy cowboy get-up that looked silly back when Tom Mix was wearing it, plays Howard Spence, an aging Western star who's had enough of the fame, the fortune and the vapidity. In the middle of what could be his big comeback, he simply rides off the set, vanishing into the desert like a holdover from the days of John Ford. Eventually, he moves back in with his mom.

Don't Come Knocking (Sony Pictures Classics) Starring Sam Shepard, Jessica Lange, Gabriel Mann. Directed by Wim Wenders. Rated R. Time 122 minutes

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