By Ashley Hillard
There’s a curse on the former cast of TV mega-hit “Friends” – one which only Courteney Cox-Arquette has managed to escape.
Lisa Kudrow, seemingly recognizing her ability to play anyone but, channels her best-known character, TV ditz Phoebe, with her turn as Claire Dunn, the awkward wife of a struggling writer, Richard Dunn (Jeff Daniels).
The couple moves to a remote town so that Richard can focus on writing and Claire can commute to the hospital she works at as a cardiologist.
Richard is approaching middle age and faced with the challenges of giving up his super hero friend, Captain Excellent (played by the awesome Ryan Reynolds) and growing up to be the husband his wife expects. To add some complication to the mix, Richard befriends Abby (Emma Stone), a local troubled teen. The two form a bond that teeters on inappropriate and Richard finds himself having to explain his feelings towards Emma to Claire and Captain Excellent.
The concept of the film is great – a strange, dark comedy telling the story of a child-like man approaching middle age – but it spirals into repulsive, messy territory with the Abby / Richard subplot. Though the two are never overtly sexual, there does seem to be an inappropriate flirtation that makes Richard an irritating and unsympathetic character. The older man / much younger girl dynamic just doesn’t work in this context, even when it’s shown as a friendship. Claire is a super successful doctor and Richard appears to be a gross loser, riding around on a ten year old’s bike, playing with local teens, not writing his book.
The flick’s Message to women in the audience? Put up with your loser spouse / boyfriend until he’s good and ready to grow up and look the other way if he befriends local teens, he’s just having fun!
The writing is good, but the execution lets the script down. Ryan Reynolds is the best part of this film and Captain Excellent is hopefully a taste of what he can bring to the Green Lantern. The writers / directors of ”Paper Man”, Kieran Mulroney and Michele Mulroney are attached to pen the sequel to ”Sherlock Holmes”.