Monday, November 1, 2021

Later Days: Movie Review

An 80s throwback minus the comedy and music.

A throwback 80s party held by characters who graduated from high school in the mid-to-late 90s. Later Days filmmakers seem to have gotten their decades confused, and the film doesn’t have much else going for it. David Walton has probably gotten used to be the best of the cast with a career of short-lived sitcoms and a handful of Hollywood comedies, and occasionally getting guest-actor credits for better TV comedies.   2021

Directed by: Brad Riddell, Sanford Sternshein

Screenplay by: Brad Riddell, Sanford Sternshein

Starring: David Walton, Majandra Delfino

Walton is once again the best of the cast. Mike is a stay-at-home dad, wanting to throw a big birthday party for his hardworking lawyer wife. So he throws a surprise party/high school reunion 80s-themed bash, despite the clear warnings that Pam (Majandra Delfino) is not going to like it. And that unfortunately goes for the rest of us. Since after Mike and Pam, we have a roomful of undefined, over-acted, bizarre characters who are just painfully not funny. They may or may not have matured from their high school days, but there’s no backstory given to help the audience get in on the joke. With one exception – a guy named Rowdy (Matt Trudeau) who is so well-casted that it’s easy to know exactly what his relationship with Pam was like based on just a few glances.

The soundtrack should be the selling point, but it’s mostly unpopular 80s tunes that apparently did not stand the test of time. Such that I, a 90s teen, who is the same age as the majority of these characters, don’t know half the songs and barely remember the other half. The movie drags a lot, not helped by the lack of comedy, and lack of good pop songs.

Mike is the only character who has a backstory. He was a once-promising baseball player, who got drafted for the major leagues, but only made it to AAA before his arm gave out and he moved back to his hometown, married his high school sweetheart, and volunteers as coach for the little league baseball team. The party has also helped him realize that he was an asshole in high school – an unsurprising character development that Walton pulls off perfectly. Of course he was an asshole in high school. The rest of the movie is him becoming less of an asshole in his now settled-down family life.

Later Days needs better characters in addition to Mike. There are no worthwhile relationship dynamics in play since none of the other characters are reasonably explored. The other characters all exist for the sake of comedy but just aren’t funny. Changing it from the 80s to the 90s won’t make it a better movie, but it would make more sense.