Barnaby is a down-in-luck loser who has just been dumped by his long-term girlfriend, fired from the job he hated in the first place, and kicked out by his parents. Oh, and he’s 29 years-old as the film will remind you on occasion. At his age, life isn’t going where Barnaby thought it would and he does little to turn things around. That is, until an old high school friend pops back into his life at a reunion and helps Barnaby pick himself from the dumps.
What I Liked
It would have worked wonders had the multitude of awkwardly placed jokes been collected for a stand-up comedy special, because they were undeniably funny – or at least tickling – to watch. The character of Madison is a delight with her girl-next-door type personality and sweet-natured charm that provides incentive for the viewer to stick around and not give up on the movie. There’s also the basic premise which is relatable to an extent. We’ve all been there when life seems to have rushed by and we haven’t caught up with. The balance between following through with your passion and working a job just to pay the bills is the theme of this movie which should resonate with viewers as it did with me.
What I Didn’t Like
Barnaby. Not to say he’s wholly unlikable, but the guy is an overgrown man-child. 29 isn’t too old but the manner which he conducts himself – taking showers in the nude in public, fabricating his resume to include outlandish achievements that would realistically land him a kick in the rear in any interview, and his inherent sluggish personality coupled with serial laziness – makes it hard to root for him. He also lacks the required charm to pull the viewer to his side as other, more talented actors like Bill Murray would have possessed. It isn’t done much favours with the gauche direction that teeters in the brink of total dullness due to the long drawn out silences for no apparent reason, or the complete absence of background music that contributes further to the already abundant silence onscreen during interactions.
Murphy Martin isn’t a talented actor – comedian he might be – but he can’t pull off this role with charisma the same way Diana Solis can. Had there been the presence of more actors in the movie, Martin’s impact would have been lost in the shuffle. What perplexed me was the attraction Madison held for Barnaby. There may have been some long suppressed feelings from their high school days, or her lack of dating options, because her investment in Barnaby’s life– from getting him gigs to straightening out his CV, and basically spending all her time with him – isn’t understandable in the slightest. Any woman would have been turned off by Barnaby’s lack of drive and all round lethargic personality, but Madison is enchanted by Barnaby upon her first seconds of screentime.
It ultimately depends on how Barnaby comes across to the viewer, whether his sarcasm and dry humor can be endearing or if his crude jokes (that include toilet humor) and juvenile behaviour will overstay its welcome after the opening minutes. While the general idea of an uplifiting ending is comfortable, it is also a longshot the manner with which Barnaby is handed one opportunity after another and is then equipped with superb skills out of the blue that do not align with his brazen demeanour. The farthest idea the movie wants us to believe is that two very attractive women could ever find Barnaby appealing in the first place. You get the sense the director wanted to appeal to the “loser community” by handing them a wish-fulfilment scenario.
Finally, the story drags along easily a half-hour more than it should have – which is not helped by the stretches of silence between dialogues – for an ending that doesn’t really place Barnaby, or the viewer, in a different place than where they had started.