When we first meet Barney Panofsky, he's finishing a bottle of 12-year-old Scotch and drunk-dialing his ex-wife.

When we first meet Barney Panofsky, he's finishing a bottle of 12-year-old Scotch and drunk-dialing his ex-wife.

When her new husband answers the phone and refuses to put her on, Barney slurs spitefully, "Ask her what I should do with all these nude photos of her."

Barney Panofsky is not a very nice guy. And you'll have to accept that to gain any enjoyment out of "Barney's Version."

The movie spans decades in the life of Barney (Paul Giamatti), telling the tale of his three marriages - and the one time he fell in love.

We're introduced to him as a grouchy curmudgeon, but over the years we see how he became that way. Of course, he wasn't the nicest guy to begin with.

Based on a 1997 novel, "Barney's Version" feels like an adaptation, as the various episodes spanning a lifetime almost call for chapter titles.

But it still flows nicely for its two-hour-plus runtime, held together by a fine performance by Giamatti. It's reminiscent of his role in "Sideways," if we'd been able to see that character grow into his grouchy golden years.

Barney's general lack of likeability could be a liability for some. The dude's kind of a douche.

But I found a certain charm in watching him over the years, even if other characters weren't given the same time to develop.