LANDLINE review

I wonder why specifically 1995. Eh, here’s to hoping this movie is full of 90’s cheese and nostalgia. If your movie takes place in the 90s, you owe that to your audience, movie!

I’ve been seeing the trailer for a while now. It looks like it’s about this pair of sisters finding out that their father is cheating on their mother, but for whatever reason, don’t tell her, and just spend the entire movie hating him and bonding with each other. It looks like it could be enjoyable enough, but this movie will immediately lose a point if the entire plot is a liar-reveal story. You know, characters keeping a secret until everything comes out in a contrived, predictable way by the end of the second act. That thing that so many movies have done in the past that it’s grating to everyone’s senses. Here’s hoping that the details of the movie elevate it.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have the ever-amazing Jenny Slate (DESPICABLE ME 3 [2017], THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS [2016], THIS MEANS WAR [2012], and the upcoming THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 [2019]), Abby Quinn (1 episode of LAW & ORDER, and the upcoming Transformers spin-off, BUMBLEBEE [2018]), Edie Falco (MEGAN LEAVEY [2017], and TV shows NURSE JACKIE and THE SOPRANOS), and John Turturro (TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT [2017], HANDS OF STONE [2016], MR. DEEDS [2002], and the upcoming Big Labowski spin-off, GOING PLACES [2017]). In support, we have Jay Duplass, known for BEATRIZ AT DINNER (2017), PAPER TOWNS (2015), and TV show THE MINDY PROJECT.

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is Gillian Robespierre, known for OBVIOUS CHILD (2014). Co-writing is her partner-in-pen, Elisabeth Holm, whom also co-wrote OBVIOUS CHILD. Question mark… why does this movie have three composers? We have Chris Bordeaux (OBVIOUS CHILD), Clyde Lawrence (unknown projects), and Jordan Cohen (debut – congrats, sir). Finally, the cinematographer is Chris Teague, known for OBVIOUS CHILD- jesus, it’s an enormous reunion, isn’t it?

Overall, I think it could be a cute enough movie, but we’ll see how it goes.

This is my honest opinion of: LANDLINE

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1996, New York City. Dana (Jenny Slate) and Ben (Jay Duplass) are a loving couple about to get married. Dana’s younger sister, Ali (Abby Quinn), is a rebellious teenager who wants the freedom to do what she wants without judgment. Things take a complicated turn when Ali discovers that their father, Alan (John Turturro), is having an affair on their mother, Pat (Edie Falco). To make matters even worse, Dana ends up having an affair on Ben as well, forcing the sisters in situations that help them bond, and make it through their terrible decision-making.

(REVIEW)

I really wanted to like this film. I tried really hard, but God damn it, this movie wasn’t as likable as I thought it’d be.

The very opening of the movie was enough to start me off with a bad taste. It’s just Dana and Ben trying to have sex in the woods, which fails. Somehow, that was supposed to be an attempt at comedy, which failed too. Which brings me to one of the major problems of the movie. It’s clearly a dramedy, but the comedy portion doesn’t really work. Which is such a shame because Slate is quickly becoming one of those actresses where if her name is stamped on the project, I want to see it. And she’s not even bad in this movie. Her acting really does shine through. She’s clearly supposed to have charm, this woman who is getting cold feet and does something terrible and struggles with what she wants thinks she wants. I do legit like the chemistry between Slate and Quinn as sisters, but everything in between is harder to stomach. Before Dana cheated on Ben, you never get a sense of cold feet in her. They’re affectionate and even have a scene where they’re in the shower together, she’s got poison ivy, and she’s comfortable with him peeing on her. So by sheer presentation, all you really see is her cheating on her fiancé, which left a really bad taste in my mouth. To make matters worse, she doesn’t even seem to be struggling with the cheating. She leaves her fiancé at home and she’s getting her pussy licked in a movie theater. When was I supposed to empathize with her? And you never understand her motivations until toward the end.

Now for the other sister. Ali is atrociously annoying. She’s the standard “I don’t give a fuck” type of teenager. Smoking, sneaking out to party, doing drugs, it’s one of the most tired clichés that can be put into movies. Once again, though, there isn’t a lot of redeeming value. None of her actions are some proverbial cry for help when she finds out about the affair. She’s not subconsciously trying to get both her parents to unite against her because uniting to be mad at her is at least being united. Nope, it’s just what she does.

The vast majority of the movie is sadly a bunch of jokes that don’t work, or don’t even make sense. Nobody does the right thing, or even the smart thing, so I found it impossible to really connect with the central characters. But, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few things that I liked.

For one thing, usually when I see Turturro’s name in a movie, I’m beyond scared. He can be a funny actor when given the right material (MR. DEEDS and THE BIG LEBOWSKI [1998]), but he can be painfully unfunny when not. I’m looking at you, Transformers sequels. But here, he’s not a comedic character. He’s… normal, which is different for him. He’s just a father trying to be a good father to his daughters and a good husband for his wife, but just happened to screw up because of a rough patch in his marriage. And Falco is also really good in the movie as the much more direct and stern of the two parents, but she’s usually amazing in anything that she does, no matter how small her role may be.

Overall, this is a story that’s been done before and in better films. The two leads are difficult to empathize with, and because it is a character-driven story, that critically hurts it. The acting is great from everyone, which does elevate it somewhat, but I can’t honestly claim it to be a good movie. Viewer beware, is how I’m going to recommend it. If nothing else, save it for a rental. I don’t like it, but I’m sure this could find an audience somewhere. Personally, I’d rather pull the chord from this 90’s phone so I don’t have to hear it ring again.

My honest rating for LANDLINE: a weak 3/5

Landline-movie-poster

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