Saturday, August 13, 2016

Joshy: Movie Review

Engaging characters shine through in a dark comedy balancing humour and tragedy.
Joshy’s tagline “The wedding’s off. The party’s on.” might make you think of a pure comedy born from a romantic comedy-styled break-up. You would probably be forgiven even though that’s not it. However, it is the type of movie where the less you know going in, the better it is. So I’ll just say, it’s a dark comedy. It starts dark, it gets funny, and then it gets heavy. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. 2016

Directed by: Jeff Baena

Screenplay by: Jeff Baena

Starring: Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally

It is also true to its independent roots. The opening is bare and a little muddled – like you're a little kid who has just been thrown into the deep end with no floaties and you’re struggling to find the side of the pool to hold on. And when you finally do get your fingers on the edge, when you finally feel that you have been sufficiently introduced to Thomas Middleditch as Joshy and Alison Brie as his fiancée Rachel, you’re thrown back in again with a very startling turn of events. And then the film tries to present itself as a more middle-of-the-road bachelor weekend party.

Boys will be boys, guns will be played with, drugs will be taken, girls will be flirted with, and hot tubs will be dipped into. This is the main part of the film and also where the deep, deep cast of talented comedians comes in.

It can seem at times, especially early on, that this film was just an excuse for funny guys to hang out and tell some random jokes that they think are funny, not necessarily that an audience would find funny. But these comedians are not just being comedians there is some solid character work going on here. And before I knew it, I was fully engaged with these characters, I was invested in their stories, and their jokes became a whole lot funnier.

It can take awhile to get to know these characters, but once you do, they can become very endearing, and all with their fair share of faults - which just makes them all the more real. And just like people in real life, it can take you a little while to get to know them, to understand them, and to get used to their sense of humour, but once you do, you have a whole group of people you want to hang out with and laugh with, and heal with.

For a pseudo-bachelor-party weekend, Joshy has invited his friends to a rented house in Ojai, California. Adam (Alex Ross Perry) shares Joshy’s geeky side, who can experience pure enjoyment from staying in and playing a new board game; Eric (Nick Kroll) wants Josh to have fun, but his idea of fun is getting drunk, getting high, inviting over strippers and sex workers, and getting laid; Greg (Bret Gelman) doesn’t actually know Josh, he’s Eric’s friend, and as such can be very inappropriate since he doesn’t know the real reason why they’re gathering for the weekend. And I have saved the best for last. Ari (Adam Pally) is arguably Josh’s closest friend, arguably the one closest to normal, which also means he genuinely cares about Josh and wants to help him, and doesn’t really know how, and meanwhile he has his own personal dilemma.

Pally really grounded this film into a group of people to actually care about, and along with love interest Jodi (played perfectly and hilariously by Jenny Slate) added a lot of the comedy, and most importantly, he connected the guys-weekend-styled comedy with the darker and heavier themes that the film deftly explores.

The independent feel of Joshy along with its dark and melancholy subject matter juxtaposed with the type of comedy that belongs in a pot-fuelled frat movie, can be disjointed, but eventually the brilliance of the writing comes through. There are endearing and engaging characters here, some very funny scenes, along with some thoughtful meditations on how to deal with the tragedies of life.

Similar Titles:

About Alex (2014) - About an ensemble that gives a new generation a film to call their own.

Before We Go (2014) - A simple conversation becomes fun, funny and romantic with two great characters.

Obvious Child (2014) - Surpassing the romantic comedy genre with hilarity.
Best of 2016