Fun but no Dice Man

Chaos Theory gets giddy, then retreats

Though early paperback editions brandished a "Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture" tag, there's never been a movie of the 1971 cult novel The Dice Man. That's a pity, because this tale of a psychiatrist who ditches his too-orderly life — by beginning to roll dice to make decisions — is a screen natural. I bet screenwriter Daniel Taplitz has read the Luke Rhinehart (a.k.a. George Cockcroft) book. His and director Marcos Siega's Chaos Theory is a Dice Man update, softened and family values–sweetened for our counter-counterculture age. Ryan Reynolds plays Frank, a best-selling efficiency expert whose life derails in a marital meltdown. Pulling a 180, he decides "never to make a decision again" and to rely on random index-card suggestions instead. Streaking, bar fights, extramarital sex, no-hands motorcycle riding, and other vicarious freedoms ensue. Just when it hits its giddy comic stride, Chaos Theory retreats into conventional, sentimental terrain. Still, Frank's brief vacation from conformity might give some people ideas. (As Dice Man once did for me, when I embarked on an interstate hitchhiking trek.) And if Kerouac's On the Road (1957) might finally reach the screen after a half-century, there's hope for Rhinehart's book. In fact, Paramount claims a movie version is "in development." 'Course, they've been saying that for 30-plus years.


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