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dir-scr Andrew Bujalski
prd Paul Bernon, Houston King, Sam Slater
with Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Michael Hall, Brooklyn Decker, Constance Zimmer, Brook Jones, Amy Lowrey, Greg Dorchak, Shiina Yamada, Elizabeth Berridge
release US/UK 29.May.15
We just want to pump you up: Smulders and Pearce
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With a scruffy comical tone, this lively, colourful comedy rambles along without much momentum. Writer-director Bujalski essentially just throws his characters at each other then sits back and waits for something funny to happen. Sometimes it does, but without a discernible point the whole thing feels rather annoying. It's also more like the back-story of a sitcom than an actual movie.
In Austin, Trevor (Pearce) runs Power 4 Life gym with a wholistic philosophy, dreaming of one day opening a larger facility. He constantly clashes with his employee Kat (Smulders), a sparky, super-fit trainer he once had a fling with. So he assigns her to work with a new client, the suddenly wealthy Danny (Corrigan), who doesn't know what do with his millions. Once again, Kat neglects to respect professional boundaries, and Danny sacks her. So Trevor takes over, intrigued when Danny and his chucklehead lawyer (Ribisi) offer to invest in his new super-gym.
Pearce is very funny as the pumped up Trevor, a man who cares too much and takes everything a bit too seriously. He's nicely squared off against Smulders' pushy, abrasive Kat, who is clearly confused about who she is. It's easy to see why Trevor would be attracted to her, but she's so angry and shallow that it's difficult to believe that he could fall for her. Frankly he seems more suited to his perky estate agent girlfriend (Zimmer). Completing the trio, Corrigan is offhandedly elusive as a guy who can buy anything but doesn't really want anything.
The film zips along with an unfocussed rhythm, constantly switching points of view between the three central characters. Bujalski takes his time revealing key details about these people, so it isn't until about halfway in that anything begins to happen in their interaction. There's plenty snappy dialog, some amusing situations and even a hint of dark emotion, but it never goes very deep. And since it's essentially meaningless it never elicits much more than a smile.
Essentially, this is a vacuous story about people with ambition but very little substance. Trevor has talent and belief but no resources. Danny has the cash but no purpose. And Kat is just drifting, a perfect body with no soul. Clearly they only make a complete person when they all come together. But instead of exploring this unusual idea, the script just piles on more chaos and frustration. At least it's more intriguing the blacker the comedy gets.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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