I picked up this film because of its star-studded cast including Michael Cera, Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, and Fred Willard. The film itself was not spectacular and in a couple of weeks I’m sure that I’ve forgotten everything that happens in the movie. This was in part due to the fact that there was a tangible lack of story and the ending was spectacularly disappointing and unsatisfying. But despite the lousy story and screenplay, the film is held up by the wonderful cast, especially Cera and Willard.
Michael Cera, the actor behind Arrested Development and then a lot of really bad movies, stars as the protagonist of the movie. In the movie he gets to play two different versions of the main character which is a pretty interesting concept and which Cera works with very well by making the two characters distinct and equally interesting. His character however was never truly compelling though which could also be due to short runtime, but also because of Cera’s much more supporting-character-type. Portia Doubleday plays Cera’s onscreen love interest, and despite the sub-par chemistry between the two, Doubleday falls short of making her character funny or compelling. And even if Cera’s performance was not perfect, he at least put something into the character and didn’t just recite lines as himself. Jean Smart plays Cera’s fickle and dislikable mother who consecutively switches boyfriends. Smart’s performance itself is weak and not funny, and ruins the vast majority of the scenes in which she’s in.
In bit parts we have a surplus of big-name actors like Zach Galafianakis, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, and Ray Liotta. Zach Galafianakis plays Smart’s boyfriend in the beginning of the movie, or rather he plays Zach Galafianakis playing Smart’s boyfriend, but it works. And the Galafianakis and Smart scenes are the only scenes featuring Jean Smart that are enjoyable and watchable in the movie. Steve Buscemi plays Smart’s ex-husband and Cera’s father in the movie, and just like Galafianakis he doesn’t do a whole lot to the character, but it works well in his case too. And I love watching Steve Buscemi in anything, so there’s also that. Fred Willard plays Cera’s confused and silly neighbor, who much like Willard’s role in Modern Family, adds so much to each scene he is in. Willard also has some truly hilarious moments onscreen with Buscemi. Ray Liotta plays Jean Smart’s police-officer boyfriend and much like Jean Smart herself, is dislikable and fickle and makes his scenes not funny.
The screenplay of the movie is not great and features a cast of mostly unlikeable characters, but its major flaw is the lack of story. Earlier this week I threw up a review for Rampart (with Woody Harrelson), which features a story of one man’s descent into a depression-filled hole. This film does almost the same except in a ‘humorous’ way, and also- the stakes are much lower in this film. Essentially this film of a young man who does stupid stuff for a girl he likes and is eventually chased by the police is undercut by itself and never really manages to be funny or thrilling. Michael Cera and Portia Doubleday’s relationship is also horribly rushed such that the viewer doesn’t get a chance to root for them. The only scenes in the film that are truly compelling are the Michael Cera scenes where he plays two characters, and the Steve Buscemi and Fred Willard scenes. The film is also only 90 minutes, and normally I don’t mind a short movie, but when the film is as rushed as this you start to wonder how much they could have accomplished with an extra 30 minutes.
A crappy comedy with big names can be fun to watch, but when the comedy never really manages to be funny, the film is not fun to watch. This movie never got me to laugh, cry, or feel any other human emotion, despite Michael Cera, Zach Galafianakis, Steve Buscemi, and Fred Willard all putting in a decent performance. Go watch this film if you want, but there are so much funnier and more entertaining films (with equally short runtimes) that you could watch instead.
Best Aspect- Steve Buscemi and Fred Willard
Worst Aspect- It’s not funny…