Thursday, June 20, 2013

Movie with Abe: Bert and Arnie’s Guide to Friendship

Bert and Arnie’s Guide to Friendship
Directed by Jeff Kaplan
Released June 18, 2013 (VOD) / June 21, 2013 (Theatrical)

Putting two names and the words “guide to friendship” in a movie title suggests an interesting kind of film. The structure of this new comedy presents its two protagonists, Bert (Matt Oberg) and Arnie (Stephen Schneider), as interview subjects against a stark white background, who discuss their careers and romantic lives, and, ultimately, each other. Their stories come together when Bert first meets Arnie after discovering that he is sleeping with Bert’s wife, yet that knowledge takes a very different role in how they act towards each other than one might expect. These dual narratives are both over-the-top and ridiculous, but, taken together, the story actually works, and it proves to be quite entertaining.

Bert is better known as B.W. Scheering, a buttoned-up intellectual author. Though Bert’s wife told him that Arnie Hubert was her cooking instructor, in truth, he is an analyst with a predilection for sleeping with married men’s wives. Arnie develops his own infatuation with his new boss, Sabrina (Anna Chlumsky), while Bert’s wife leaves him and he finds himself pursued by a highly motivated student, Faye (Cristin Milioti) and eternally at odds with his harshest (book) critic, Erica (Bree Sharp). Bert and Arnie’s relationship is based on the different approaches they take to the women in their lives, and their friendship is all about how those tactics and temperaments clash.

Both Bert and Arnie are extreme personalities and, at first, it’s difficult to sympathize with either one of them. As the film progresses, however, it becomes clear that Bert and Arnie might be a lot more like each other than they think. Their parallel stories work well together, and watching them intersect is enjoyable. Though they are far from universally known, leading men Oberg and Schneider both bring worthwhile talents to the table and to their roles. Chlumsky, who can currently be seen on “Veep,” plays against type as a self-assured, manipulative businesswoman, and she’s joined by the talented Sharp, whose cruel critic is one of the film’s best characters, and the eccentric Milioti, who is set to join the cast of “How I Met Your Mother” for its final season. This ensemble helps enhance a light and amusing comedy that uses its primary protagonists and their affinity for storytelling as a jumping off point for a look at men and women and how some people just need different things in their personal and love lives.


No comments: