With Jake Gyllenhaal as our lead Davis Mitchell, a WASP-ish investment banker with a very large and cold glass house (foreshadowing much?!! *eyeroll) whose life turns into complete disorder when his wife dies tragically in a car crash. He seemingly feels nothing until he discovers a possible grieving outlet, making him deliberately avoid dealing with his grief from a big ol’ vat of emptiness and renouncing this lack of feeling any emotions by demolishing buildings, furniture and household appliances.
We watch as Davis finds himself writing a highly articulated complaint to a vending machine company for not ejecting his favorite candy bar. When it’s not answered, he then writes another with more detail and another with even more detail until lone customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts), answers his cry for help which is in and of itself so completely unbelievable. So but of course, they strike up a type of relationship. She’s a pothead and single mom with an angsty teenager named Chris (Judah Lewis). But even weirder than this..he then goes on some weird roaming rampage with the kid that really goes no where and makes absolutely zero in the sense department. Watts’ and Lewis’ characters seem secondary not only to the entire cast but also to the overall morale as Gyllenhaal’s Davis bulldozes through the film, robbing the wrong people of the right moments. If this film was trying to be an America Beauty successor, it’s a long way off off ground, but was passable until the final act’s three incredulous twists send it way off the beaten path.
Maybe this was meant as a comedy of sorts, or a drama..who knows for sure, but what I do know for sure is the film is totally ridiculous, not entertaining and almost insulting to the intelligence. The absurdity of the Gyllenhaal character and his love interest doesn’t match the universe of the other characters in the movie which results in a total disconnect for the us, the viewers. The performances could have been done by anyone, including my neighbor as that is how dull and lacking they all are, except maybe for a completely under-used Chris Cooper here as Phil, the father-in-law who is trying to figure out the same thing we are..what in the fricky-frack is going on.
The script is weak and the contrived situations simply not funny. An attempt is made at infusing some symbolism of grief, but it’s neither here nor there nor anywhere for that matter.
Review Screening: Wednesday, March 30, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
Now playing nationwide as of Friday, April 8, 2016