Take a Drink: for each change in the plan
Take a Drink: during each colorful conversation
Do a Shot: for each shocking moment
By: Matt Conway (Four Beers) –
One of the great movie genres that does not get the credit it deserves is black comedies. It just seems like there are not as many made anymore, and it’s a shame. Black comedies are essentially films that make light of more serious situations. Some of the my personal favorites include Bad Santa, World’s Greatest Dad, and American Psycho. When a black comedy is done right, they can be some of the funniest movies out there, while also having something more meaningful to say.
However, I can understand why there are not a lot of black comedies made, as they are a tough sell. They are very sinister, and have more of a selective audience. The same could be said of Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife, which essentially announces its premise with its title. While it’s another effort at creating a good black comedy, it for the most part misses the mark.
Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife follows a group of friends who are sick of their friend Ward’s wife, who constantly belittles him. Their solution- to kill her.
The cast here is quite good, with mostly everyone in the ensemble doing a relatively solid job. The standout as usual is Patrick Wilson, who is continuing a solid career with another very good performance. Wilson pulls off his dead-pan black comedy routine as David to perfection, still being quite likable despite the bad deeds that he and his friends are committing.
Other supporting players do solid work as well. Donald Faison has the toughest role as Ward, who has to come off as as a reasonable person despite his wife dying, but he is able to pull it off for the most part. Dargmara Dominczyk plays Stacey, Ward’s annoying wife, and has a lot of fun in a role where she really gets to chew the screen. Other actors such as Amy Acker, James Carpinello, and Greg Grunberg also do solid work in their respective roles.
In his directorial debut, Scott Foley, who also wrote and stars in the film, does a respectable job in the director’s chair. The Scandal star feels relatively at ease behind the camera, with the film being directed quite smoothly and professionally for the first time director. The film also looks quite good, with Cinematographer Eduardo Barraza getting some impressive wide shots.
Foley’s script certainly has to be given credit for how dedicated it is to its wild premise. Not to spoil too much, but the film follows through with its wacky premise to the bitter end, and that I am thankful for when so many other movies fail to truly dedicate themselves to the somewhat daring plotlines they feature.
The script, though, is plagued with issues- a major one being that the characters in the film are quite one dimensional. Instead of being believable human beings, the characters are just shrill one-dimensional characters, who don’t encompass characteristics that would make these people feel well-rounded. Even the great Patrick Wilson, who injects a lot of charm into his role, plays largely a simplistic slacker-type.
Foley’s script makes an interesting attempt to add a sense of morality to the ongoing events, yet this additional aspect is not quite as well implemented as it could have been. Foley’s script tries to have Carpinello’s character Ronnie provide this, which just does not make very much sense considering his character at the start of the film was the most immature. It was a good thought to include morality as it would obviously come up, but it is just not well constructed.
Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife just takes too long to get going. The film is a very brisk 81 minutes long, but the film does not truly get going with its premise til around halfway through the film, with there being just way too much set-up time for these rather uninteresting characters, giving them meaningless background. It just seemed like a waste of the film’s running time, instead of diving right into its premise.
The film’s biggest and most glaring problem is that it’s just not very funny. Black comedies’ cynical look at dark aspects of our lives can often times create big laughs, and Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife had the opportunity to give a funny look at suburban life and marriage, but the film largely has very obvious shtick jokes that just fail to land a majority of the time.
Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife is a decent attempt by Scott Foley, but this black comedy largely misses the mark both in the laughs and brains department.