Friday, February 10, 2012

Ten Statements About....PEEP WORLD (2010)

...because there are days I dream of having Dexter and Dwight
standing over me....usually the days I wake up screaming...
"I mean, you're an incredible writer...with a dysfunctional penis."

1) Can we please, please, please ascribe the 'starting an Indie Comedy with a sliver of the climax, then rewinding to earlier that day' thing to the pile of Cinema Tropes We Never Need To See Again? It's gotten so that every time I see a film open like that, my blood runs cold.

2) You know what's the difference between the Modern Indie Comedy and the Modern Mainstream Comedy? In the Modern Mainstream Comedy, where they make a character's painful, medically induced and constant erection a plot thread....they actually show you the penis.

3) The crux of this film's problem is simply that the central characters--the children of a developer played by Ron Rifkin--are true grotesque that director Barry Blaustein is perfectly content to just parade out without giving us any sort of reason for us to want to follow their collision course with a moment of clarity that reunites them as a family. Hell, when Rifkin blows up at the quartet, you're actually on his side.

4) That being said, there are a couple of sympathetic characters we can identify with. Unfortunately, they're uniformly supporting characters with minimal roles. In particular, I liked Taraji P. Henson's Mary, who makes you believe that she does see something in Rainn Wilson's schlubby Joel we just can't, and Kate Mara's Meg, who seems to have more levels to her publicity assistant than the script gives her.

You will believe an attractive black woman
could fall in love with Dwight....
(Okay, and I can sympathize with Stephen Tobolowsky's Ephriam, even if his whole point is so that Blaustein can laugh at the Jews For Jesus movement, only because I can see putting up with Sarah Silverman's insanity and emotional brutality for eight years in the hopes that she would sleep with me as well...)

5) You know what I find particularly monstrous about Ben Schwartz's Nathan? It's the sense that this whole ridiculous thing about abusing his assistants then confessing his sexual dysfuction to them is an act he does at every stop on his book tour to get them to sleep with him. It's hard to sympathize with him later when he reveals why he wrote the book he did when you suspect he's such a manipulative lil' putz.

6) I am going to give Rainn Wilson a tiny bit of credit here. Yes, Joel is another schmuck like the ones he played before. But unlike that grotesque he plays in The Office, and the mentally broken down Frank from Super, Joel has some strengths as well as weaknesses. He has a genuine desire to better himself and when he's with Mary, he seems to strive to be better and is more aware of the problems he suffers from. It's a much more interesting performance than he is usually capable of giving.

7) Maybe it's because I'm a man, but I just don't get why Judy Greer's Laura considers Michael C. Hall's Jack looking at porn worse than physically cheating on her. Yeah, she has a right to be mad, but to the extent she does in this film makes her seem out of control even for a pregnant woman. But then....

8) Jack himself is almost as big a mess as Joel is, a seeming giant of passivity. He doesn't resist anyone, doesn't say no until Rifkin chews him out...and when he proclaims he doesn't want to be an architect anymore without any plan as to what he wants to do instead, it comes off not as inspiring, but insipid. I just have this sense he'll be either on the street with his wife and newborn kid or working for his father's company within a year....

Yes.  I am showig you a picture of Sarah Silverman reading
a book...shut up, she's hot!
9) I am now at the point where I look at any indie comedy with a narrator with askance....especially when you use said narrator without taking advantage of the qualities that make that narrator unique. Lewis Black is such a passionate speaker that I suspect the film would be enhanced if Blaustein's script allowed him to get a little judgemental or sarcastic in the reading. But no, Black is made to narrate in a dry, neutral style that I wondered how bored he was reading these rote little passages.

10) You know what I hate about Indie 'comedies' like this? There's no difference between them and mainstream comedies...except that the characters are more well off and we're expected to take away insights into the human conditions in the end. Replace these people with a bunch of high schoolers being chewed out by the principal and there's very. little. difference.

Overall...Even though there are some small performances that are entertaining, this is a smug little comedy populated by emotional monsters we're supposed to find endearing.

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