Review by Rich Cline | 2.5/5

dir Debra Neil-Fisher
scr Brad Morris, Matt Walsh
prd Debbie Liebling, Carissa Buffel, Kevin Matusow
with Eva Longoria, Matt Walsh, Lea Thompson, Keith David, Nicole Byer, Al Madrigal, Joel Kim Booster, Johnny Pemberton, Hala Finley, Gail Cronauer, Heath McGough, Nancy Friedrich
release US 22.Apr.22
22/US 1h34

thompson david byer

Is it streaming?

longoria and walsh
While it's rather tired to whine about phone-addiction, this silly comedy finds feel-good charm in the irony of the disconnection between our online lives and the real world. So if the digital detox plot is feeble, and the romcom structure predictable, some underlying ideas hold the interest, most notably the importance of communication in a relationship. Alas, the film isn't original enough to properly engage the audience.
With a busy Chicago suburb life, hyperactive executive Jeanine (Longoria) and her home-worker husband Dan (Walsh) spend more time with their screens than with each other. Then when Jeanine is told to take a break from her job, Dan books a weekend in a country cabin that's beyond mobile phone coverage. They meet a couple of eccentric locals (Thompson and David) who have learned to live with the unpredictable electricity here. And as Jeanine and Dan try to work out how to survive here, they also need to remember how to be a team.
Jeanine and Dan have never really lost their spark; the problem is that they've just been distracted by everyday life. It doesn't take much time away from their routine to remember how much fun they have together. And the script pushes the characters into a contrived pile-up of gently amusing situations that ultimately unearth the issues that have gone unspoken for years. But much of this is downright absurd, from swarms of watching drones to some potent edibles to a series of nutty animal encounters.

Both Longoria and Walsh have an easy on-screen vibe that's entertaining to watch, maintaining a comical tone while adding some deeper shadings. They pivot effortlessly between slapstick silliness, pointed sarcasm and darker drama, while maintaining a warmth that keeps the characters sympathetic even when they do stupid things. And in quirky side roles, Thompson and David get a chance to steal a few scenes. Although others with potential are wasted, including Finley as their bright teen daughter and Booster as Jeanine's snarky assistant.

There's an odd running gag about secret military operations causing bizarre incidents in the area, which hints worryingly that this is heading into action-comedy territory. Thankfully, the plot swerves in another direction, even though there's still a bit of mayhem involving a comatose chicken and a local with a shotgun. Meanwhile, director Neil-Fisher over-eggs the wackiness and over-punches the themes in this couple's heightened interaction. This leaves the movie in the mindlessly goofy category. But it could have been more than that.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 18.Apr.22

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© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall