Friday, October 7, 2016

Movie Review: "Other People" (2016)

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Movie"Other People"
Director: Chris Kelly
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

A comedy writer (Jesse Plemons) moves back home to help his mom (Molly Shannon), who has been diagnosed with cancer.

"Other People" is written and directed by Chris Kelly, who is a long time writer for "Saturday Night Live." The film is a semi-autobiographical story about a gay comedy writer who comes home to Sacramento to help his mom, who has been diagnosed with cancer.  It stars Jesse Plemons as David, the aforementioned comedy writer who was living with his boyfriend Paul, played Zach Woods, before leaving his life behind to return home. His family is very religious, and when he came out, were not very accepting of him. Despite this, David has still come home to help his mom Joanne, played by Molly Shannon, who often doesn't get the chance to play dramatic roles as she has primarily been a comedy actress for the duration of her career.

That being said "Other People" isn't so much about her battle with cancer, but rather about David's struggles watching his mom fade away and her dying a slow death while dealing with very stressful, floundering career, while going through a breakup with his boyfriend, and dealing with his dad Norman, played by Bradley Whitford, who is still not very accepting of his son's lifestyle. David realizes his mom was sort of the glue holding everything and everyone together, and once she is gone, he may not have a reason to come back home again. Jesse Plemons has really made a name for himself in a few short years in Hollywood, and he is excellent in the role of David, portraying his awkwardness and unsureness as he struggles to find a new boyfriend, deals with his habit of being a little ashamed of who he is due to his religious upbringing, and tries to come to terms with his mother's slow death. Molly Shannon is fantastic as an ailing mother just trying to set things right and get things in order before she dies. As we mentioned, Shannon doesn't get all that many chances to act in a dramatic part, but this is certainly one of the best performances of her career. Bradley Whitford is also great in his more limited role, and he plays a stern, disapproving father very well.

Some have said this movie is funny, but it isn't at all. Like "Funny People" a few years ago, there can exist a movie about comedy writers that is not actually a comedy. Some of the dialogue and situations within the context of the film have the capacity to be funny, but as a whole, this is absolutely not a comedy and we wouldn't want to further set this expectation. This is very much a drama through and through, and as with almost all dramas, there are moments of levity and wit, but this film is depressing as hell for the most part, especially if you have a personal connection to a story like this as we do. Squeezing emotions out of an audience from a movie about this subject matter is not exactly a tough task. Us, like many, have had family affected by this terrible disease, so this portion of the movie (and most others) conjures up painful, tough memories. Beyond the great acting by Molly Shannon, Jesse Plemons, and Bradley Whitford and some quippy dialogue, "Other People" is, for the most part, just average film, and we're sorry to say this is the case. We wish we could say differently, but for what it is, it may be worth watching so long as you have a box of Kleenex handy.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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