Directed By: Craig Johnson
Written By: Daniel Clowes (Based on His Graphic Novel)
Cinematography By: Frederick Elmes
Editor: Paul Zucker
Music By: Jon Brion
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Jusy Greer, Margo Martindale, David Warshofsky, Cheryl Hines, Brett Gelman
A lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged man reunites with his estranged wife and meets his teenage daughter for the first time.
What should feel like a cynical comedy based on the Daniel clowes graphic novel. Here feels rather Eager to please
The problem with the movie is tone. It stays truthful and is actually in the end happier than the original told tale.
Here it seems more important to have a kind of happy ending for the whole thing instead of leaving it to be more pointed comedically and leave it introspective and humanistic.
It feels like it is heading towards something and staying true to itself then feels like it falters not sure of itself before selling out. In a need to please. Leaving the tone uneven. Though the film has many moments of melancholy character comedy. It comes off as mean spirited as it should before all of a sudden having a heart of gold. It should have felt more like a movie like bad Santa hat at least kept true to it’s roots through and through even if having a more cheerful ending than expected.
Even the supposedly good characters in this movie come off as unlikeable so that by the end only a few come through leaving the audience rooting for them. Even then sometimes they have Trevor own issues which makes the film at least feel at least somewhat more identifiable as not every character is good and pure. Throughout this film there are plenty of bad.
The actors play their parts well. Laura Dern is particularly memorable as a a character trying to be on the straight and narrow. Though keeps getting pulled back into her dark side. Woody Harrelson is good. it seems more or less a familiar role for him. He doesn’t break any new ground. As the film is obviously more a character study and give Woody Harrelson a great showcase, but it constantly feels as if there is no point especially by the end. As the actions just feel more random and like funny ideas to tie together. Where as in the graphic novel they at least had more weight.
The film never justifies it’s own mean where is this story headed why is it being told. At least in graphic novel form there was some kind of cohesion. Here it seems they took the best parts and didn’t know what to do but make it more audience friendly while trying to stay true to it’s roots.
The film just feels endlessly cruel for no rhyme or reason and even though the actions are explained. They still come for as random and rather unbelievable. As there is no feeling of engagement. It just feels like things happen to happen. What is particularly puzzling is that the film seems more built around a comedic character but puts itself in such a reality that his character doesn’t come off as funny. he is more creepy or just damaged.
It’s a shame as it’s director Craig Johnson follow up to his excellent directorial debut THE SKELETON TWINS. That also has the same tone and mood of dark comedy and drama. So it would seem to be a perfect match of director and material when it comes to this film.
Derek Cianfrance (BLUE VALENTINE) was at one point attached to direct the film before dropping out to direct THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS. He would have been a more artistic choice. His first comedy really
Though it seems like the comedy is pushed too hard and the more human moments. Ever feel quite believable. More like they are shoehorned in to give some kind of light balance. That doesn’t work. As moments that mate meant to be more gritty and emotional. Still seem presented more as humorous and come off as false or more like plot machinations then natural.