Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Writer/director Janicza Bravo's oddball dark comedy stars Brett Gelman as a thoroughly-unlikable and constantly-sullen actor and theater teacher with a blind girlfriend (Judy Greer) who wants nothing to do with him, an equally-pretentious prize student (Michael Cera sporting some insanely ridiculous hair) with whom he has a very unusual relationship, and a dysfunctional family (Fred Melamed, Rhea Perlman, Shiri Appleby, Martin Starr, Hannah Heller, and David Paymer).

It's hard to root either for a man lacking all empathy or against such a sad sack who is little more than the butt of life's series of jokes. Isaac's misadventures include belittling a theater student (Gillian Jacobs), fretting about the state of his relationship, accidentally killing his friend's birds, awkward attempts to woo a new love (Nia Long), and taking jobs as the face of sexually transmitted diseases. More than a little self-indulgent, every character and event in the movie pushes the oddball style past credulity highlighting either the humor or misery of its protagonist (often both at the same time), which makes it difficult to take either that seriously.

Written by Bravo and Brett Gelman, Lemon isn't a bad film, but it isn't a fully-formed one either. Much of the talented cast is wasted in relatively thankless roles as aspects of Isaac's life (such as his teaching and acting, and large sections of his family) are dropped never to be discussed again. The stories might have worked far better as a series of shorts rather than as a feature with chapters that don't necessarily build on each other. Even if I don't think the film quite works, it does provide some memorable moments.

[Magnolia Home Entertainment, $26.97]

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