Another in an endless stretch of indie movies about young-ish aimless slacker adults. Mikey visits his parents for a few days, then just never leaves, abandoning his wife and job. Just as Jacobs’ The GoodTimesKid had the one kitchen dance scene that almost made the rest of the movie worth watching, this one’s got a single standout scene: Mikey has been contemplating suicide atop a steep staircase for a few days, and when he finally falls down the steps, he’s fine.
Azazel starred himself in The GoodTimesKid. He gets an actor (Mark Boren) for Mikey this time, but stars his own parents as Mikey’s parents, and shot in their apartment. It’s possible that Lena Dunham stole all these ideas for Tiny Furniture, but Dunham traded this movie’s underlit naturalism for methodical filmmaking with a more humorous script, which I admit I far preferred.
Mikey gets more pathetic, buying beer for teens so they’ll hang out with him, looking up old friends and acting like nothing has changed, and making up different lies for sympathy. He shows his parents the avant-garde film he made (can’t remember Ken Jacobs’ reaction to this) and generally reverts to a time when he had fewer responsibilities, until his wife and parents figure out what’s going on and kick his ass back into gear. I was annoyed at Mikey while watching this, but a month later I’m living at my parents’ house with an ever-present, narrowly-resistable urge to drop everything and play with legos for a week straight, so I guess I know how he feels.
Jacobs (a big Cassavetes fan, btw):
I divided the story into three acts, starting with the person who doesn’t want to leave, leading to the person who can’t leave, and finishing with the person becoming able to leave.
It’s also importantly distinct from the recent obsession in American movies with man-children, reaching its probable Waterloo with the generally castigated Step Brothers, movies that want to appeal to audience men-boys—many of them of the lower sub-species of fan boys, that sad, sad type plaguing the land—and invite them to both laugh at, and laugh with, the bizarrely stunted culture they’ve created for themselves in a Lucasized Hollywood. In fact, Aza has made the ideal counterpoint film to that whole decrepit phenomenon, since Boren’s Mikey—after burying himself for days in comic books, pages of horrible song lyrics he penned to his first lost love, and losing himself in a now-vanished New York—finally, with a little nudge from Ken and Flo, leaves his old home and returns to his wife and baby. Responsibility, contra infantilized Hollywood, is the new life force.