Some Days Are Better Than Others (2010)

13 08 2012

I saw a preview for this a long time ago and was impressed by the fact that it seemed that, in spite of its obviously cutesy and twee intentions, it had some aesthetic appeal. The dreamy soundtrack helped too, but really the film just serves as an extended trailer. It’s too precious to be truly as humanist as it wants to be. Plus, can a film that’s misanthropic really be humanist. There’s a annoying snide, Alexander Payne-esque mocking of all peripheral characters. It seems that everyone outside of a small circle are just caricatures of people you’d meet at a terrible college party. It’s impressive but a completely forgettable experience.

I will give director Matt McCormick some credit. He does manage to create some very impressive visuals, something the like-minded Payne has never really accomplished outside of his inherently picturesque The Descendants. There are a few truly awe-inspiring photographic moments, which mesh perfectly with the Matthew Cooper soundtrack. This is when the film is at its very best. However, once someone opens their mouth, it begins to fall apart. Carrie Brownstein is solid, but James Mercer is kind of grating. It can’t really help that their left dealing with dialogue that is either a forced attempt at naturalism or uber-pretentious pondering. Does anyone ever really ask questions like, “How long does it take to get over a broken heart?”

Dialogue such as the line mentioned above is floating throughout the film. When the movie wants to be serious, it feels like a Pacific Northwest version of American Beauty. Remember how that film’s poetic attempts are now seen almost entirely as comical? Well, they’re subtle compared to some of the musing suggested here. There’s a completely obnoxious story involving James Mercer’s step grandfather narrating some film about soap. In addition, this character’s presence is only served to remind us that Mercer’s character is really, really a good guy. No seriously, he’s helping an old guy. How life-affirming, how positive, how humanist.

I guess that’s the film’s biggest problem. It tries to create some interesting “character” driven stuff, but it all seems so positively manufactured. It’s even more upsetting considering the film tries so hard to reveal itself in a slow, natural manner but then the actual drama is so blah. One of the few interesting parts is that James Mercer’s Eli might have a really deep crush on a friend he’s living with, but that ultimately becomes a complete snooze when he talks about it in his “meaningful” conversation with his step grandfather. It’s a film about people that it really wants you to like via their alienation, which is really just a situation where they are surrounded by comically stupid people. It had a chance to be something special, but it’s ultimately just a conventional cutesy, twee movie slowed down to be arty. 

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