People, Places, Things
The whimsically animated opening titles, which economically spell out the backstory of this rather mopey tale, lead us into a gentle movie which doesn’t seem to quite know what it wants.
Perhaps appropriately, neither does its protagonist. A year after he catches his wife with her lover at their child’s birthday party, single dad Will (Jemaine Clement, enjoyably keeping his deadpan Kiwi accent) is still getting over his rubbish life. He doesn’t see his young daughters enough, because his day-job teaching comic book writing to high school students doesn’t afford him a big enough apartment. Cue awkward attempts at sleepovers with the girls “camping” in the lounge and pizza for breakfast. It’s little wonder his ex-wife (portrayed as selfish and mixed-up – just let her go, man!) doesn’t have much more faith in Will than we do.
The thin script, evidently written from the heart by director James C. Strouse, in which Will attempts to get his family back together while negotiating new relationships, is at times painful to watch for both its tone and tortured delivery. It’s ostensibly a comedy (and Clement does play it droll with considerable pathos) but more often unintentionally awkward. Ultimately, the people, places and things in it don’t amount to much.