Tonight’s fight features promising newcomer Johnny Simmons against aging champion Adam Goldberg. Johnny is a rookie, he had a small role in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and… I want to say… “Juno”? No, it was “Jennifer’s Body,” and he was also in “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.” Adam Goldberg has been in everything from “Dazed & Confused” to “Saving Private Ryan.” But what has he done for us lately?

Each actor gets two films premiering in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival to prove that he’s got the goods to go the distance with the right stuff in the ninth inning. It’s a little thing we like to call the Wrecka in Tribeca. LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!

Johnny Simmons gets schooled by Ethan Hawke in The Phenom.

Round One:

The Phenom Johnny Simmons plays the title role, a rookie pitcher who is underperforming on the mound. It’s time for him to talk to sports psychologist Paul Giamatti, who is doing the Robin Williams character from “Good Will Hunting” (1997). Johnny’s problems are mostly due to his abusive father, Ethan Hawke, who steals the movie with a great performance as a washed-up minor leaguer. Can Paul Giamatti cure poor Johnny? And do we care? Simmons is a mumbling blank slate throughout the film, making it difficult for the viewer to get emotionally invested. It’s partly the fault of the script by writer/director Noah Buschel, but a different actor might have been more engaging.

Zero points awarded to Johnny Simmons for this round.

The Second Inning:

Between Us Olivia Thirlby and Ben Feldman play A Los Angeles Couple in a Moribund Relationship. The thrill is gone, and they don’t know whether to break up, get married, buy a condo, or all of the above. Ultimately (spoiler alert) they cheat on each other. Analeigh Tipton plays the sociopathic pixie-haired dream girl that catches Feldman’s eye, and Adam Goldberg is the studly bearded performance artist who intrigues Thirlby. They’re both great – and Goldberg looks surprisingly young and normal with a beard – but they show up way too late in a very slow-paced movie. And why weren’t they cast as the leads?

Zero points awarded to Adam Goldberg for this round.

Johnny Simmons as Monty is approached in the courtyard in DREAMLAND. Photo Credit: Benjamin Kasulke

Third Quarter:

Dreamland Every year at the Tribeca Film Festival, some lesser member of the Coppola/Schwartzman clan gets to debut a movie. This time around it’s Robert Schwartzman, who is the brother of Jason Schwartzman, the son of Talia Shire, the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, etc. He’s made a competent but unexciting movie about A Los Angeles Couple in a Moribund Relationship. They don’t know whether to shit or go blind, but fortunately the young fellow, played by Johnny Simmons, gets a gig playing piano in a fancy hotel bar. There’s some Mrs. Robinson type stuff that happens, and elsewhere Beverly D’Angelo makes a welcome appearance, but it’s hard to care too much – Johnny Simmons is once again too much of a blank to care about what happens to him. With his big brown eyes he resembles a younger Nick Stahl, but without Stahl’s presence.

Zero points awarded to Johnny Simmons for this round.

Fourth Down:

Rebirth Fran Kranz plays a white-collar office drone who gets a surprise visit from college friend Adam Goldberg. Goldberg is there to 1) Shake Fran out of his lethargy with a wonderful new self-help group OR 2) Recruit Fran into a cult and steal all his money. Or both? Or neither? The movie is a neat little mind-f#¢k, and is very slick, thanks to the big Netflix money behind it. Adam Goldberg finally gets to play the most Adam Goldberg role since that time he was Chandler’s psychotic roommate Eddie on season 2 of Friends. Bonus – since the movie is coming to Netflix, you don’t have to pay $15 to see it in a theater.

Al the points awarded to Adam Goldberg for this round.

Sorry, Johnny Simmons, you were overmatched in this fight. Maybe next year you’ll have the chops to take on a heavyweight and score a hat trick in overtime.

Coming up next… the festival ends – but who won? On the next TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL DISPATCH.

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