Look, I loved Lake Bell's previous movie "In a world ...", it was the perfect romantic comedy, off-beat, funny, and with a heart. In fact, I'm probably in love with Lake Bell because I thought she was the best thing in it: she has this natural vulnerability about her that manifests itself in minor gestures and in those big, expressive eyes. I'm just saying this because, if anything, I'm prejudiced for her, not against her.
Anyways, I *wanted* to love this movie, but it's a piece of crap. The insular, middle class environment is literally suffocating. The characters are hateful and empty, without a single redeeming feature (again, except for Lake Bell's Alice).
Let's dive in, shall we?
Ed Helms can be extremely funny (see The Office), but here, he's just depressing. First, he runs the family business (selling blinds!) into the ground. Not because he gambled away the money (you wish!), but through sheer incompetence. And the sad thing is, he doesn't even seem to mind: he seems as upset about it as you'd be about a clogged toilet (well, probably less). He's bland as sop, has no passions or hobbies, probably stares at drying paint for fun. Which begs the question: why would I care if he wanted a child? I would suggest a vasectomy instead, just to save future generations from his pathetic gene line. Problem is, we, the audience immediately question why on earth would a hot and classy girl, like Lake Bell, settle for this guy? Because he reliably flushes the toilet? Honestly, I was baffled. To top this off, there's zero (and I mean ZERO), chemistry between him and Lake Bell. (And I've probably never seen a less exciting invitation for sex in my life. "Meet me in the toilet. In 5." It would be tough for Brad Pitt to pull this off, let alone Ed Helms.)
Paul Reiser and Mary Steenburgen's couple was the worst. There's nothing less appealing then people well into their 50s who still haven't found anything in their life to be passionate (or, at least, excited) about. They have money, apparently, but do nothing with it. Theirs is a meaningless existence, where conversation (when not hateful) is as shallow as a puddle. I doubt they'd ever read a book, listen to music, or do anything outside their comfort zone. And because they are so desperately banal (yet, at the same time, judgmental), nobody cares if their marriage survives or not. I would have been thrilled if the lady fell in love with the pool boy, burnt down the house for insurance money, and told her stupid husband where to get off. At least then, something would have happened.
And, my Gosh, haven't we had enough cheap hippie jokes already? Who thinks making fun of hippies is original, or fresh? Those guys died out in the 60s, all we have left are some dumb hipsters, and even they are too lame to make fun of anymore. In other words, the hippie couple induced the highest levels of indifference in me: Amber Heard is hot, sure, but she doesn't flash her boobs, so no dice. The black dude seems well-adjusted, happily idling away his days, doing sod-all on daddy's money (and he's sleeping with Amber Heard, so he's got that going for him). Why exactly should I care what happens to them? (And no, they are not even into drugs, despite being sooo hippie: at least that would have given the proceedings a little zest).
The 'marriage is dead' plot is artificial, forced, and utterly predictable, which is not a good thing for a movie. I mean, seriously, would anybody in their right mind think for a second that Paul Reiser's character will suddenly say "Screw this, I'm moving to Albania to herd goats!" Exactly nobody. We know the score: marriage is NOT dead, damn it, people, don't you understand?! (For humanitarian reasons I will say nothing about the BBC documentary lady.)
OK, so what about Lake Bell's Alice? Well, as I mentioned before, she's good (great, in fact), but she's stuck in a terrible movie (of her own making, I know, but still). I think she needs to take more risks next time, blow up the living room, burn things down, let blood cruise through the veins of characters so that they make rush decisions, terrible mistakes, and decide to call it quits, if necessary. In other words, she needs to step up her game, because we're witnessing an Oscar caliber actress wasting her talents on insipid fare, best shown on the Lifetime channel for bored housewives. In Vero Beach.