Scott (Ben Schwartz) is a thirty-something slacker whose stand-up act is going nowhere. He returns to his dull suburban family home in Long Island to save on rent, where it seems all his mates now lead adult lives and he is in danger of being left behind. His mother dotes, his father is distant in the vein of “When are you going to get a real job?” and his mouthy sister gives as good as she gets, when she’s not working the pretzel counter at the mall.
When Scott meets local dermatologist Marty (Billy Crystal), their similar sense of humour and unfulfilled lives make for an odd-couple bromance. While Scott hankers for the woman he gave up before pursuing the open-mic comedy circuit, kidult Marty ’fesses up over Jägerbombs that his wife died of cancer and his grown-up children have no time for their kooky, boozed-up father. In a heartbreaking scene, Marty, tired of not having his phone calls returned, turns up at his son’s door, only to be met with blind hostility. Marty is even denied hugging his grandson. Families!
With this bittersweet story and cramped, low-rent setting – everything is horribly ordinary – there’s a sense that the first-half of the film is scene-setting as we build up to some revelatory conclusion. It’s not that kind of movie. There is some fine observational humour and a wry mood that’s rooted in reality, though it’s not always uplifting. There are some long, wordy sequences that bog things down in places, but mostly it’s winningly done. The almost unrecognisable Billy Crystal is simultaneously sad and funny, but Schwartz gives a likeable performance as well. The film also shines a light on the ennui of our disconnected modern world, where sad cynicism is forever in danger of eclipsing the joy of living.
Available on digital HD from Fri 30 Mar 2020