Sundance 2012 Review: The Comedy

The Comedy

The Comedy is, in a way, a perfect example of what Joe Public probably thinks of when they think of a Sundance movie.  It’s definitely a director’s vision, whether it makes any sense to actually put his vision on film or not.  It’s pretentious as all hell.  It’s an insanely low-concept character study with almost no driving story to speak of.  It has some shocking scenes sprinkled in, seemingly in order to cry out, “Hey look, I’m SO indie!  This would NEVER be in a mainstream movie, right?”  And lastly it’s really, really, really slow.  Yep, as I write this, I definitely think this is a non-Sundance viewer’s idea of a Sundance movie.  Only here, they’re dead on.

The Comedy should actually be called, “Let’s Follow Around a Complete Asshole for 90 Minutes as he Hangs Out With His Asshole Friends, Says Asshole Things, and Just Meanders Through Life as an Asshole.”  But now, come to think of it, that title might be a little too long.  But that’s basically what this movie is.  It’s the story of a 35 year old man who was born with tons of money, an entitled point of view, and no goals in life.  He splits his sad existence between living on a boat in the middle of the river and just being a dick in any way possible.  One thing he enjoys doing is pretending that he’s an employee at various places and fooling people into thinking he works there.  Why?  I’m sure the pretentious answer is that he’s “questioning his place in the world and testing all avenues to see if any place brings any comfort and enjoyment to him” or something like that.  My answer would be, “just because.”  And that’s what this entire movie felt like to me.  It’s just one, long, “just because.”  Nothing really has a point.  There’s no normal story here.  There’s not really any conflict.  There are zero likable characters.  There aren’t any of those pesky things that, you know, make a movie entertaining.  Instead it’s filled with bits that are supposed to “test the audiences boundaries.”  I love to have my boundaries tested in every way shape and form, and that’s why I was so let down by the film.  I gotta tell you, I wanted this movie to work.  I did.  I really did.  But it just didn’t.

There are a few good bits I should point out.  A few of his “being an asshole” bits are actually kind of funny.  The church scene and the cab scene worked for me.  You laugh even though they’re being complete pricks.  It’s this kind of perfect uncomfortable conflict that the director was probably shooting for, and I wanted more of.  But those few bits didn’t make up for the countless times that it fell flat.  Most of the time there was no point, no meaning, and worst of all, wasn’t funny even in a “being an asshole” way.  I feel like there was an opportunity to really play with this theme, but this wasn’t it.  Also, one other thing I liked was Tim Heidecker.  As much as I really hated the character, Tim did a really great acting job.  Usually known for his insane comedy, he played sad and dramatic really well.  I have to hand it to him and definitely tip my hat to the guy.  Regardless of the surrounding film, as an actor, he went up a whole bunch of notches with me.  To borrow from the name of his TV show, “Awesome job, Tim.  Great Job!”

The main problem I had with the film was it’s complete lack of purpose for existing.  Look, I get it.  It’s a character study on a wealthy prick and how he questions and fills his life.  The final scene really hits home about how he just really never grew up and is essentially still just a child.  Nobody can accuse me of not “getting it.”  I get it just fine.  It’s just, why, do I have to get it?  Why is this something that anyone would want to see?  I know there is an audience for everything, and I can’t fault people for what they enjoy, but for me, this movie just fell flat.

The most telling moment for me was at at the 75 minute mark when I checked the time on my phone.  It wasn’t until after that reflexive moment that I realized, that was the first time the entire festival I’d checked my phone.  That’s not a good thing.  I never check the time during a movie.  But it showed that I was as invested as I wanted to be.  In the end, it seemed like one of the longest 90 minute movies I’ve ever watched.  Oh well Sundance, can’t win ’em all.

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