Who's In It:
Julianne Nicholson, Timothy Hutton, Ben Shenkman, Christopher Meloni, Frankie R. Faison, Bobby Cannavale, Max Minghella, Josh Charles, Lou Taylor Pucci, Will Arnett, John Krasinski, Will Forte, Dominic Cooper, Ben Gibbard
The Basics: A female graduate student conducts bloodless interviews with enough men to fill a Promise Keepers rally. They talk and talk and talk. The talk about themselves and about women. They talk about how they love women and use women and manipulate women and are baffled by women and how they get women to meet their desires. Then one guy comes along to talk about how he always hated his father for not having a nice enough job. That's a weird bump in the road. But at least it breaks up the monotony for a minute. Then it's back to more yappy-yap-yapping.
What's The Deal: Take all the tired men vs. women jokes that third-rate comics steal from each other, then strip them down to their most complainy elements. That's this movie. And the problem is not writer-director John Krasinski's devotion to the project or its original author, the late, eccentric David Foster Wallace. The problem is that somehow Wallace's wildly inventive prose has been turned into a really oblique, really trite, really long episode of thirtysomething. No action, no revelations, no wisdom, no clever comedic insights, no idiosyncratic situations forcing characters into awakenings. Zero. And all this time you thought adulthood was going to be fun.
And Another Thing: I never read the Wallace book, so I'm just going to assume that he went into the hows and whys of these men and their characters, with lots of sophisticated takes on the quality of "hideousness." But in the movie it seems like you qualify to be known as hideous if you have a penis, a mouth that talks, eyes that see, feet that walk, a functioning libido, a non-functioning libido, resentment issues with your parents, communication breakdowns with your significant other or a simple inability to hide your annoyance over Julianne Nicholson bugging you with her thesis questions.
One Bright Side: Nobody's on camera for long enough to let you build up a good strong hate vibe toward any one person in particular, although I will say that I'd prefer it if Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard (aka Mr. Zooey Deschanel) would stick to writing tender ballads to be used over emotional climaxes in movies instead of deciding to act in them himself.