|Not quite a directorial debut, aTypical Wednesday is, however, the first feature-length fictional film written and directed by J. Lee. It’s a funny and clever comedy that both subverts expectations and gives audiences what they want. The themes are common comedy-drama fodder, namely: relationship issues, bullying and race relations. All three play into one another really well with a lot of laughs along the way.||2020 |
Directed by: J. Lee
Screenplay by: J. Lee
Starring: J. Lee, Cooper J. Friedman
The lead character, Gabe, played by quadruple-hyphenate (writer, director, actor and producer) J. Lee is a well written character. His relationship issues stem from jealousy; his current/ex/on-again/off-again girlfriend’s ex-fiancee is a rich, white, rock star, investor who’s offering her a new job. Of course he’s jealous. His therapist (Michael Ealy) is trying to instill some confidence in him, and when a fellow patient he sees every week was left without a ride home and Gabe takes it upon himself to offer young Alec a ride home. Alec is a bizarre little (white) kid who we eventually learn is in therapy for good reason. Yes, that set-up is an adult Black man driving around a non-related white kid.
The acting is fantastic across the board, and while the kid is not my favourite he is particularly effective during the bullying scenes. Bullying scenes that are realistic but not overly sad. Alec knows when to shut up and retreat. Without spoilers, I will say there is a great subversion to the bullied kid stereotype. It’s worth repeating that this is a smart, funny, well written movie.
Actress Bresha Webb shows up for exactly two scenes and threatens to steal the entire movie. We know Gabe is in therapy and we can surmise that some of the issues are his own doing, but as Bailey (Webb)’s existence so hilariously points out, his concerns arose from legitimate experiences and possibilities.
The whole movie is just a really good set-up to lead to the superb climax. A scene which involves every character (well, except one, but she already served her purpose), some wonderfully hilarious reveals, and an ending which should be expected except the rest of the movie was leading us away from it. As Gabe and Alec are first put together and after Alec can’t quite remember where he lives, it seems like it’s going to slow down. While some scenes are less funny and slower than others, the pace is never really an issue since there’s enough going on to keep the audience’s attention.
Every character that is introduced is relevant. Usually an introductory scene and then they somewhat unexpectedly reappear in an hilarious scene building off of their main characteristics. This is smart and efficient writing, and I can’t wait to see what J. Lee pulls off next. I enjoyed the character of Gabe and his relationship with Alec so much that I want a sequel.