Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Split: Movie Review

A romantic comedy in a world of bowling and video stores.

Split takes place in a slightly off world. Everything is just a little bit off-kilter. Characters are weird, jokes aren’t quite as funny as they probably should be, which makes it that much harder for the audience to get invested in the story or just be entertained. The plot is pure rom-com: Cassie has read a study that concludes that the average woman gets married between 26 and 30. Since Cassie is almost 30, she has to get married right now. 2016

Directed by: Jamie Buckner

Screenplay by: Jamie Buckner

Starring: Tracy Weiler, Sean C. Keller, and Christopher Guetig

I have insulted quite a few romantic comedy heroines for being that stupid, for thinking that statistical studies are somehow law, and if they don’t get married right now, they might as well kill themselves. But I don’t actually think Cassie is stupid. Cassie’s father, her best friend in the whole world, has just died, so really she’s just blinded by her recent loss and one-track mind: she loves bowling, or she did love bowling until her father died, and now she just loves guys who bowl. As I said this is a slightly off world.

Although Lebowski Fest is a real thing, and unless you live in Louisville, you will do a double-take. The two coolest things are movies and bowling, and since The Big Lebowski is the greatest bowling movie ever made, the film does love celebrating it. It’s also a world where Cassie is a popular podcaster for no discernible reason.

But the biggest head-scratcher is that two of the main characters work at a video store. Who knows where to find a video store still in existence, but let’s say you can imagine that one still exists, one where the managers value the customers, are helpful and have creative solutions to movie recommendations. That’s not this store. One employee doesn’t talk – as part of a bet, he can only talk in movie quotes, so in essence he doesn’t talk – which also means he can’t help customers who are looking for movies, and the manager hates customers so he just yells at them all the time. Every customer left the store pissed off and upset and didn’t spend any money on renting movies. Not sure how that’s a viable business plan.

Back to the plot, Cassie has to choose a guy, fall in love with him, convince him to fall in love with her, and get married. The first guy she likes is named Donnie, and the only reason she likes him (and only reason she could possibly like him for) is that he’s a good bowler. He’s a guy who likes himself more than anything else, he has no pleasant manners, and won’t even bother attempting conversation. Watching a half-stupid, half-sad girl fall for an unpleasant egoist isn’t the greatest plan for a movie.

The second guy really likes Cassie, and his infatuation with her is very cute. But Oliver is the guy who doesn’t talk. I think you can guess some of the difficulties that will follow. But the guy who ends up holding most of the movie together is Chris. Now granted, he’s the manager of the video store and I don’t like him at his job, but he’s friends with Oliver, likes Cassie as a friend, and will go out of his way to try to include Cassie in their group and make everybody feel at home. He also gets most of the handful of laughs found in the movie.

For anybody who has the trifecta of loves movie references, loves bowling, and likes independent romantic comedies, Split pretty much hits the jackpot. It has solid movie references throughout the whole thing, a handful of bowling scenes, and it is a mostly cute romantic comedy. However, for the rest of us, it’s not overly funny, has some bizarre character choices, and can be hard to get into. By the end, it’s a cute romantic comedy, but it is a weird world.