"It's not so
Call me an old-fashioned hillbilly, but I go to the movies
to be entertained. I don't go to see a bunch of neurotic New
York assholes go through acting exercises. "Your Friends
and Neighbors" is about neurotic New York assholes. Six
of them, to be exact; three women and three men, and they are
unlikable to varying amounts. And they go through acting exercises.
Since the actors portray pricks so well, the red wine huffing
sophisticates in the art houses will probably say, "Wow,
this movie is very arty and real," and then discuss how
smart they are for enjoying it while overpaying for martinis
in their creepy downtown bars. It is arty, I guess. But it ain't
anything like real, and it sure as hell could have been more
"Your Friends and Neighbors" is a buffet selection
of relationship types. There is the married couple, the living-together
couple, the hunky single guy, and a wild card lesbo. All these
people have in common is really nice apartments, bitchin' Scandinavian
furniture and cold, blue unhappiness. They play musical chairs,
secretly fucking inappropriate partners within their circle,
bitching too much about it, and then showing us how much all
the fooling around has fouled their lives. So, let me summarize
the plot. The characters start out unhappy with their mates.
By the end of the film they are unhappy without their mates.
More or less unhappy, or why it matters, is never really brought
The dialogue is brutal. The characters say "fuck"
enough to make your old pal Mr. Filthy blush. I laughed at how
screwed up they all were. Jason Patric has a long, truthful,
soliloquy about how his best fuck was another boy in high school,
and I can't tell you how long I've waited to hear that sissy
boy admit he's gay. Ben Stiller didn't annoy me. In fact, the
college drama teacher he plays was exactly what I thought a college
drama teacher would be like: a giggly, nervous self-obsessed
teenage boy in an adult body, and with a goatee. He wears a lot
of turtlenecks so you know for sure he's one of them college
asswipes. Only one character, the doughy executive played by
Aaron Eckhart, is remotely sympathetic, and that's only because
his wife cheats on him without good reason.
The broads in the flick get off easy. They are victims and
not perpetrators. and the story isn't really about them. They're
all fucked up because of the men. Boo-hoo. Aren't we men just
awful? Isn't it easy for the high-brow filmmakers to show us
men that way, and show how women are so goddamn sensitive? Bor-fuck-ing.
Director and writer Neil Labute made that movie "In the
Company of Men" that I thought was gonna make me piss my
pants it was so good. This time out, he's shitting in the Whit
Stillman woods, and I hope Whit catches up with him and kicks
his ass. It's like if Stillman chose his latest film cast from
a Tourette's Syndrome clinic - all Metropolitans with rods up
their asses and shockingly blue mouths.
Labute tries so hard to be clever that his fancy pants show.
There are plenty of art-sissy touches like none of the characters
being called by their names for the whole film. This is, presumably,
to show that these uptown assholes truly are everyman's friends
and neighbors. My neighbors have Camaros, play Steve Miller Band
records late at night, and wouldn't be caught dead hanging out
around each other naked. So far as I know, that's the way everyone's
neighbors are, so the title is wrong-assed. During the movie,
the same scene, with identical dialogue, is repeated with each
of the main characters. This is supposed to show the characters
differences (I think) but it's more of that "look at me"
film school shit.
Throughout the movie, I kept wondering if I was supposed to
identify with the people onscreen. Was I supposed to jump up
and shout, "I can't get a boner either!" or "I'm
only pretending to be happy, too!" I can get a boner and
I am happy. I have nothing in common with these losers. While
I liked to laugh at their misery because it makes me think my
life ain't so bad, I didn't want to spend two hours listening
to them whine. Labute's either got to mix in more fucking, a
car chase, or relax so I don't wish these losers would shut up.
I'm being generous here and giving it a Not So Fucking
Bad because it did make me laugh at points, and I think you
foreign movie lovers might think it's really artsy. But as an
aside to Labute, lighten the fuck up, Ace.