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LANDLINE: a sweet and messy family comedy set in the 90s

landline-a-nice-family-comedy-from-the-90s

Landline is sweet, messy and set in the 90s. It also has a wonderful cast that makes the decently written script even better. You've got Eddie Falco, JohnTurturro, Jay Duplass, Jenny Slate and Abby Quinn. All under the direction of Gillian Robespierre, whom Slate worked before on Obvious Child.

"However, Landline isn’t likely to receive many summoning calls from awards bodies, unlike its older, much-lauded sister film, Obvious Child. Somewhat divisive at Sundance where it premiered, it speaks eloquently to some about desire and family bonds, but many others will feel repelled by the abrasive, self-absorbed lead characters and/or the pic’s strained, grating air of whimsy. For lo and behold, this is one of those films that abounds in scenes where people dance a lot, with each other or alone, interspersed with other sequences where they sing along uninhibitedly to cheesy pop songs of the period. Since the story takes place in 1995, happily many of the tunes are ones that haven’t been as overexposed recently on the surprisingly narrow collective playlist of American cinema. Whatever else Landline’s faults might be, credit is due to Robespierre, music supervisor Linda Cohen and whoever else was responsible for collating the eclectic soundtrack that encompasses Steve Winwood’s “Bring Me a Higher Love,” vintage African dance music, 10,000 Maniacs and hip-hop tracks of the era. But too often it feels as if the filmmakers were told that one of the highlights of Obvious Child was the montage where Slate and Jake Lacy rock out to the intoxicating title track by Paul Simon, so they decided to pull the same trick as many times as possible here." (The Hollywood Reporter)

Or a similar, not so enthusiastic blurb:

"This formula – Slate’s silliness juxtaposed with a serious issue – worked wonders in Obvious Child, in which the third rail topic of abortion is dealt with maturely, bluntly and with little condemnation. Unfortunately, the wider group of characters in Landline deadens the effect. While everyone pulls their comedic weight, the need to unfasten then tie-up so many loose ends adds a great deal of weight to what should be a lithe comedy." (The Guardian)

landline

On the other hand, critics acknowledge the director's ability to direct romantic comedies.

"Robespierre’s ’90s are full of charm, but this isn’t the good ol' days. The director has a sort of aversion to simplicity. She reminds us that, yes, life was just as complicated and altogether bunk well before the days when we spent lunch at our desks drowning in feeds of fake news, cats and quizzes about which ’90s sitcom character we most resemble Not one to look at the past as halcyon, Robespierre is bent on depicting it in all its glorious messiness.

To that point, when Ali gets home from a rave one night she hops on the family computer, inserts a floppy disk lying on the desk and finds the poetry her father Alan has been writing to a mysterious lover. As if the revelation that her father is having an affair weren’t bad enough, Alan refers to himself in verse as the Pillsbury Doughboy, a cringeworthy attempt at double entendre.

No matter how twisted things become for this family — and Alan isn’t the only one who will be unfaithful — humor is always lurking. Jokes are a natural shield and respite for the various members of the family, at times to mask hard truths and at times communicate their anger and resentment. Wrapped inside a joke can be coldness and warmth, love and fury." (Salon)

"Robespierre and Slate found an energetically frank dynamic together on Obvious Child, and with Landline one could almost start likening them to a two-headed female Woody Allen, all neuroses and blurted asides. (The script tips its hat at one point with the line, “Wanna get high and watch Zelig?” which feels plucked right out of a to-be-written Drake song.) Slate has the advantage on Allen as a screen presence, though, in her gurgling waves of seemingly uncontrollable laughter, which always seem to crest when things are getting a little too serious. That sound alone makes Landline skew more toward comedy than drama, but it’s also as heart-stoppingly human and sympathetic as any tearjerker. I’ve argued before that Slate should be the queen of modern-day rom-coms, if such a position was open. Add Landline to the evidence pile." (Vulture)

Check out the trailer below.

Tags:   news, comedy, trailer, film news, Jenny Slate, Landline

Related:   Obvious Child, Landline


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