Lettuce talk about this movie. I certainly have no beef with it; it’s buns of fun and it was so nice to ketchup with all the great characters as they Bobbed and weaved through the madcap musical mystery plot filled with giant sinkholes worth of humour, enjoyable songs (Grover’s went on way too long though), some surprisingly suspenseful action (see the trapped car), and engaging arcs for the kooky kids (Louise’s in particular tugged on my heartstrings like two hanging from a pink bunny hat).
A nice collection of vignettes on the power of the stories we see and show (highlights include Uncle Boris’ rant on family and art and the confrontation in the school hallway–“Why’d you make me look like that?”), not to mention some fun looks at the ins and outs of filmmaking (see the perfect–well, eventually–final shot). Amidst the compelling family drama, though, the central character arc could’ve used a few more incising elements like that shot where he imagines himself shooting his own life.
Has a scrumptious classic dinner party-whodunit feel, with a compelling first act full of subtle clues that let you know something’s afoot, and then a second act where the other foot (in a shoe) drops and the layers are peeled back. The humour is excellent (“Please tell me you did not think sweatshops are where they make sweatpants”), the drama less so; Andi’s glass ceiling-and-other-objects-shattering arc is effective but the others are never likeable enough to justify how they tagged along.
The romance is unfounded (should’ve just focused on Jack if you’re only going to develop it at the end) and the story arc is truly baffling (the first act “There must be something more! Let’s try something different!” resolves with “Nah, don’t try new things and don’t fuck with tradition”), but as an exercise in humour and aesthetic it works great: Jack and the townsfolk’s morbid and creepy yet enthusiastic take on Christmas is hilarious and the songs and animations are all uniquely delightful.
Works well as a rain-soaked, chilly/ing to the bone thriller; Lou is badass (see her shoulder pop-in and “Fuck!”), the violence is brutal (see the cabin fight), the villain is frightening, and the cinematography and music are both excellent (see the haunting opening sequence). It falls apart, unfortunately, when it overcomplicates things with a lackluster twist, puncturing the cool air of mystery around the central character and muddying up the climactic third act with tons of exposition.
It’s pretty much just a bunch of white guys in suits (space and business) getting tense while talking on headsets, doing math, and flipping switches, but it’s directed to plain procedural perfection; the swirling technical banter envelops you in the world (and out of it) and the methodical problem to solution plot points create suspense and release very effectively. To this formula are added nice touches of humour and emotion (“You never know what events are to transpire to get you home”).
The set up is fine, but then halfway through dinner the engaging conflict with outsider mom Kate promptly disappears in a whiff of marijauna smoke and we’re left with a mostly chemistry-less foursome doing some generic letting loose with no real purpose or character arcs to fulfill. There’s a good skit or two (see the weed shop stop; Melanie interrogating Alfred) but there’s also way too much Adam Levine (his whole subplot is excruciating), and the dad storyline doesn’t really work either.
Mesmerizing and overwhelming (it’s hard to follow in real time at times) in its intricate, layered design; paired perspectives and varying voices of past and present are brilliantly melded together (the editing and camerawork are fantastic) as the dangerous central relationship adds a unique sizzle and intimacy to the detective procedural-ings. The second case is unexpected and makes the film feel long but in hindsight it serves as a perfect parallel tidal push to the pull of the first.
It’s tweet-sized in its story, too often feeling like a short film stretched thin with gaps where deeper character or theme development should be. The scattered script pieces are excellent though, provoking in their subject matter, plot thrills, and relational dynamics, and Paige’s great Zola provides a steady emotional core throughout. Its construction is also amazing: the film grain, fades, and freeze frames, the unique camera angles, the vocalized texts, the unnerving sound design and score.
A fizzy concoction of twisty mystery, genuine relationships (see Kimura and father; the citrus brothers), well-choreographed combat, and tanks of humour that occasionally go off the rails (the dark comedic takes on death go a bit too far at times–see The Hornet fight), all within a fun flashback-filled script framework built around Brad’s bad-luck (or should I say ill-fated?) ‘Bug. Loses steam in the third act though, with its shift from wild multi-party conflict to straight forward team-up.