Directed by Marcos Siega
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Siega’s third attempt stars Ryan Reynolds, an extremely underrated actor who has turned his ability for dark cynical humor into a science since we first saw him in “Van Wilder.” Frank Allen has a similar cynical attitude, but he wasn’t always like that, as we find out when the film flashes back to a New Year’s party decades earlier where Allen and his friend Buddy (Stuart Townsend) are competing for the attention of the lovely Susan (Emily Mortimer). The introverted Frank wins out and seven years later, they’re married with a seven-year-old daughter, and he’s leading a regimented life made up of lists and slogans. In an attempt to loosen her husband up, Susan resets the clocks, making him late for an important seminar he’s leading and a downwards spiral as Frank allows himself to be seduced by a gorgeous woman at the conference–Sarah Chalke from “Scrubs” at her sexiest as she strips down to bra and panties. While driving home, he stops to help a stranded pregnant woman, leading to a misunderstanding that ends his marriage. When Frank takes a paternity test to try to clear his name and get Susan back, he finds out that he’s been sterile, which means their daughter is not his. Frank starts drinking and losing his mind, turning his efficiency system into a quirk where he writes random things down on file cards and picks one to do.
Much of the film, Frank is either moping or raging about how his life has gone to sh*t from one careless attempt at making his life easier, but much of the film’s fun comes from watching him do crazy things like starting bar fights in his attempt to “live for the moment.” It’s ultimately a strange and quirky premise for a film but one that offers many satisfying moments within Reynolds’ performance that clearly proves his potential to play Nicholson-level anti-hero roles in a way that you can love him and hate what he does at the same time. While some of the credit has to go to the make-up and hair department, the fact that we readily believe Reynolds as the older and younger more naïve versions of Frank Allen is a testament to his skills as an actor. Emily Mortimer is in similar mode to her work in “Lars and the Real Girl” and Stuart Townsend is also decent as the best friend trying to make right an indiscretion that ruined his friend’s marriage.
The film is quite short to the point where it ends abruptly, almost unexpectedly, but considering the dark and snarky nature of much of the film’s humor, the ending is surprisingly warm and touching pulling the viewer back from the deep end, and it’s a satisfying pay-off for those who’ve allowed themselves to get pulled into the lives of these characters.
The Bottom Line: