Take a Drink: for every instance of a New York loft or townhome.
Take a Drink: as if people like the ones depicted actually exist.
Take a Drink: for every potential or realized romantic entanglement
Do a Shot: if you wanted to punch Joss Whedon in the face afterwards, even though he had nothing to do with the production.
By: Bill Arceneaux (Three Beers) –
There are few things that get me as worked up and angry as watching a generic sitcom. If you’ve ever watched something as insipid as, let’s say, Two to Tango (not a real show, but it sure sounds like one) – with the canned laughter from the studio audience, predictable and headache-inducing formula, lame jokes, etc – you know how I’ve felt and what I’m talking about.
Thankfully, movies are in a medium that has no sitcom equivalent. At least, that’s what I prefer to think. Sure, films in the horror and comedy genres can take on familiar tropes and styles, and tearjerkers are easy prey for critics, but I honestly can’t picture something from cinema as a bad sitcom (please comment below if YOU can).
That doesn’t mean movies don’t try.
Some try TOO hard
Mutual Friends is indie film at it’s most indie. Well sure, it wasn’t shot like a Joe Swanberg picture – flip cameras and all – but the spirit is certainly pronounced. The interlocking characters inhabit a neighborhood of New York designated for the quirkiest of the quirky, and sometimes the whitest of the white. It’s a small world for them, with everyone connected through family, romance or friendship.
It’s also a complicated world, where feelings for one another, despite engagements and other obstacles, are kept from percolating to the top. As a result, they all live in a state of awkwardness and unease. Neurosis hits the hipsters. Between hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, glances are shared, filled with everything that’s wanting to be expressed, but is held back. It’s funny how they’ll talk out their problems with “mutual friends”, but not with the person that’s immediately involved. Humanity hits the hipsters.
The emotional barriers can only hold for so long. Once everyone gets together for a birthday party…
Think Garden State crossed with Elizabethtown and something from Joss Whedon, and you’ll have Mutual Friends. For me, that’s something not to feel awkward about.
Beers Two and Three
The sitcom attempt that is most prevalent here lies in the characters themselves. They are, for the most part, typical “New York” fodder, over-privileged, over-analytical, and under-likable. Semi-likable anyways. It may not be the fault of the characters (or even actors) specifically, but rather the stereotypes they express and the dialogue they spout. There’s the free-spirited musician, the stuck-up woman, the stoner, the ninja (yes, you read that right) and more. It’s not a movie made up entirely of cardboard cut-out people, but there are a few too many.
The saving grace comes in the form of what the characters have to face and how they react to it all. What could’ve been a horror story of bad improv / TV writing becomes a case of naturalistic acting and comforting tone. It all somehow works out well. Still, to get to that point, some booze must be consumed.
With some familiar faces (like the guy from Cloverfield), some annoying faces, and some faces you weren’t expecting, Mutual Friends is at times charming and other times a struggle. Depending on your mood, this could be a hit or a miss. Overall, it’s worth a watch. That’s more than I can say for some original programming on TBS. Very funny?
No. NOT Very funny.
Follow Mutual Friends on twitter @MUTUALFRIENDSMV for special giveaways, and visit mutualfriendsmovie.com for info on how you can watch it!