Believe it or not, Bill Murray can actually wear out the wan poker-face he loaned so successfully to “Lost in Translation.”
Commitment-phobic computer millionaire Don Johnston (Murray) gets an unsigned letter from an old girlfriend telling him he fathered her son, who is now 19. Prying Jamaican neighbor Winston (Jeffrey Wright), a self-styled detective, compiles a list of ex-lover “suspects” and encourages “Don Juan” Don to visit each one bearing pink roses. He even plans the trip. “Just checking in,” he’s supposed to tell them. Don’s “no” means “yes” and the road trip is on. There’s professional closet organizer Laura (Sharon Stone) and her pseudo-nymphomaniac daughter Lolita; dour “pre-fab” real estate agent Dora (Frances Conroy) and husband Ron (“Wow, Ron and Don!” he exclaims); “animal communicator” Carmen (“Yes, she definitely speaks to iguanas…” (Jessica Lange); bike-chick Penny (Tilda Swinton, unrecognizable); and poor Michelle, who’s buried.
Jarmusch’s enternally compassionate intentions are undone by a linear plot whose social satire is so slight as to vanish. The wry, quirky humor that has served him so well appears rarely. At one point, Don calls himself “a stalker in a Taurus,” and so he is, with MapQuest perhaps the movie’s biggest star.