Extremely sharply written movie, maybe his best of the three I’ve seen. 75 minutes of watching Kaley Wheless looking disappointed apparently doesn’t get old, since a few nights later, looking for something to play while falling asleep, I watched the first half of this again. Follows all the steps (labeled: trial, incarceration, probation, etc) after substitute teacher Frances gets caught sleeping with her hot dumb student in North Platte, NE.
A somewhat-sci-fi movie that sets up an interesting premise – a genetic engineering mishap has created a thousand babies that will never age – then perversely dances around it, devoting most of its time to two morons who kidnap one of the babies, and their boss Kieran Culkin, a metaphorical infinity-baby. Starts in the middle, sociopath Kieran meeting an older woman (Martha Kelly of a Zach Galifianakis show about a clown college) on a first date and quickly rejecting her, then backs up to him dumping a girl with help from his “mom” Megan Mullally. For the bulk of the movie he’ll date Alison (Trieste Dunn of Cold Weather), who laughs a ton, and is too sweet for Megan to help Kieran break up with, so he manages on his own.
Meanwhile, the morons are drunken unhealthy asshole Larry (Kevin Corrigan) and gentle bowl-cut Malcolm (Martin Starr of Silicon Valley and NTSF) who goes blind when sprayed in the face with cleaning products by Larry. They nearly kill the baby, taking it to Stephen Root for disposal, but it turns out alright. And everyone is working for Nick Offerman, whose Infinity Baby business model is unclear.
As with Byington’s Somebody Up There Likes Me, it likes to jump forward in time. Kieran ends up with his dream girl, someone young who’s into drugs and partying. Larry is in bad shape, and Blind Malcolm turns out to be a good father to the stolen baby, who is growing older (I’ve forgotten the explanation for that). Writer Onur Tukel made Catfight last year. Music by Aesop Rock!
I was finally bullied into watching this by the poster in the Ross front entry… Byington must have visited when this opened (before I moved to town). Story of Max (who carries a magic macguffin suitcase) and friends, jumping forward 5 years every 20 minutes (though the actors barely age). The movie plays like a deadpan, vaguely absurd stand-up comedy act – a funny one, but it’s hard to tell if we’re meant to have any affection for these characters.
Max and Kate:
Max is Keith Poulson (Hermia & Helena, Little Sister) who befriends coworker Nick Offerman and marries coworker Jess Weixler (a Rigby in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby). As time goes on, Offerman ends up with Weixler and first Max then his son will date the babysitter Stephanie Hunt. Characters are unceremoniously killed – Weixler’s dad’s post-cancer-diagnosis suicide is played for laughs, and Max, now rich from running a pizza and ice cream franchise with Offerman, has a heart attack while racing a breadstick thief in the cemetery.
Max and Jess:
The director, lead actor, and Max’s ex Kate Lyn Sheil are all Alex Ross Perry associates. Byington’s followup starred Jason Schwartzman and Tunde Adebimpe and I have heard nothing about it. His latest premiered a few months ago at SXSW and I have heard nothing about it either.
My favorite visual joke: wedding singer with a four-man band who all look like the same guy. Are those all the same guy??
Rizov liked it roughly as much as I did:
What it basically comes down to is that I find Byington’s comic fixations — rudeness and morbidity — funny and compelling … It’s smart and sad about death, and the stupid decisions casually made on a day-to-day basis by adrift 20/30somethings who think marriage will give them the stability and rigor they lack otherwise. “You never know what’s good for you,” Offerman says, and he’s right.
D’Angelo hated its guts:
[Max] just drifts through life, responding to decades of minor turmoil with the same vaguely bored sneer … there’s no indication here that Byington’s characters, or Byington himself, gives even half a shit about anything at all. Somebody Up There Likes Me seems smugly pleased with its own detachment, a quality underlined by the cutesy-ironic score contributed by Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio. (Hope you like tubas.)