Friday, January 27, 2017

Sundance with Abe: Band Aid

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the fourth time. I’ll be seeing as many movies as I can and offering reviews throughout the week.

Band Aid
Directed by Zoe Lister-Jones
U.S. Dramatic Competition

All couples fight. Those who say they never fight are often looked at as dishonest or delusional, or even worse, unhealthy. Some couples find themselves at each other's throats on a regular basis and present combatively and viciously around other people. Others keep their disagreements more private. It's rare that a couple decides that fighting is inevitable and therefore their only way to move forward to find a creative way to frame their arguments, though it might be a wise recommendation to help those who think they’re constantly miserable to find some relief.

Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) don't consider themselves particularly happy. They are married without children - despite constant questions and pressure from parents - and both are stuck in mind-numbing jobs. Anna drives awful, self-obsessed people around for Uber and Ben designs logos from home without much motivation. Dishes sit undone in their sink since neither party wants to take responsibility for contributing more to the pile. Sick of their incessant yelling, Anna suggests that they should turn all of their fights into songs and start a band.

The film's title is a clever reference to how this kind of temporary solution might be viewed. It's not as if Anna or Ben thinks that this can be the answer to all of their problems, but rather that they can achieve some sort of happiness by finding a fun way to get out their feelings without being truly hurtful. This film might be a comedy with many laughs, but it also has plenty of dramatic insight into what relationships can be like.

Lister-Jones is often the scene-stealer of any project she stars in, and she steps behind the camera to write and direct her first feature, which is a resounding and affirming success. Casting herself in the lead role is a wonderful choice, since her singular sarcastic energy works tremendously for her character, who is similar to others she has played in the past yet has her own distinct personality. Pally plays excellent off her, and the two are clearly having fun as they fight and sing their way through this endearing and entertaining film. Smart supporting choices, like Fred Armisen as their weird neighbor who joins the band and a handful of Lister-Jones’ costars from “Life in Pieces” and “New Girl” in small roles, make this film a very funny winner with some decent music to boot.


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