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Ariel Winter and Burt Reynolds in “Dog Years”

Burt Reynolds, now 81 years old, has continued to work in little known films and TV series. In the indie, “Dog Years” playing at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, he’s in excellent form, playing a role that might be a bit autobiographical.

As Vic Edwards, he’s a “has-been” film star who had once been huge. Now, he lives alone and spends time with his best friend played by Chevy Chase. As the movie opens, he’s forced to consider putting his dog to sleep.

Then, out of nowhere, he gets an invitation to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival in Nashville. The invitation implies that Robert DeNiro and Clint Eastwood visited the festival in the past to receive the award.

Burt Reynolds in “Dog Years”

Once Vic arrives at the airport, however, he discovers that all is not as it seems. First, he must fly in coach. Then, his “chauffeur” is a girl in a cut-off top and cut-off shorts that barely cover her bottom. She’s busy on her phone arguing with her boyfriend and driving a car that has … ahem … seen better days.

What follows is a trip down memory lane for Vic, who was born and raised in Tennessee. It’s a bit of a buddy film, a road trip film, and a redemption story all in one.

Screenwriter and director Adam Rifkin makes clever use of old footage of Reynolds from interviews and films. In a couple of scenes, the older Reynolds is even added via CGI, and dialogue is created to make it seem as though he’s having a conversation with his younger self.

The script is nothing to write home about, but Reynolds manages to elevate the material to a comical and heartwarming degree. As his crazy young driver, Ariel Winter of “Modern Family” fame has no problem meeting him on his level as an actor.

There’s no trailer yet, but watch for “Dog Years.”

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