dir: Cooper Raiff
I did not enjoy this flick, but I do admire it. Or maybe I did enjoy aspects of it, but thought maybe overall it didn’t work, or maybe it worked overall even if it had profound weaknesses.
I start this not knowing what my verdict will be in the end.
On the surface, or with a superficial description, this would sound like a pretty stock standard film, in that it’s about a guy who’s just finished college and doesn’t know what to do with himself. It’s no different from The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman’s character didn’t know what to do with himself, except that having sex with Mrs Robinson would work, at least for a while.
It’s also, unfortunately, the same premise as every film with a male protagonist made in America in the last 50 years that doesn’t have guns in it: in other words, white, middle-class ennui, that’s usually overcome with a manic pixie dream girl who makes the protagonist listen to The Shins through her headphones and thus transforms his life into something better, finally.
There is no shortage of these films, and it seems to be a film that every up and coming actor (I’m stressing the point that it’s always (white) male actors who write / direct and star in these movies) gets to make once they get enough money together.
They are sometimes good, sometimes godawful, but they cover a need, I guess.
Well, in this flick, 12 year old Andrew (Cooper Raiff plays the adult version, who also directs) starts off the film by telling a woman at his bar mitzvah that he’s in love with her, even though he’s just a kid, and not a particularly handsome or tall one.
Of course that couldn’t work out, but we get the impression that this need to find love with an older woman is now a feature in his personality, and not a bug.
Ten years later, Andrew is finishing college, and has a girlfriend, but she clearly has a future planned that doesn’t include him, whereas all he’s got when asked what he’s going to do is “uh, follow you around maybe?” which is secretly what EVERY woman wants to hear.
As she leaves for Barcelona, he is forced to move back home, work at a place called Meat Sticks, and sleep on his younger brother’s floor. His mum (Leslie Mann) loves him and loves his silly ways, but she has her own issues, including living with bipolar.
If the film has a series of missteps, this could be the first of a cascading multitude. Her experience of “bipolar” essentially occurs entirely off screen, and ‘only’ amounts to shagging the husbands of people they know within their tight knit Jewish community during these episodes.
Like, okay. What? Right off the bat, the mum asks Andrew to take his younger brother to a particular bar mitzvah, because she herself isn’t welcome there because she shagged the father of the boy whose special day it now is, and the mum’s not too happy with her, even though the entire community seem to be begrudgingly okay with it.
I can’t even start on that. It’s treated as such a throwaway line, so casually that I just find it horrifying.