Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Talking Tribeca: Literally, Right Before Aaron

I’ve had the pleasure of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 19th-April 30th.

Literally, Right Before Aaron
Directed by Ryan Eggold
Festival Screenings

It’s usually not a great idea to go to an ex’s wedding. There are exceptions, of course, like having been friends first or enough time having passed since the breakup that a relationship with the ex getting married and the spouse-to-be could potentially have formed. When one party isn’t over the other, however, and the relationship is recent enough that wounds still haven’t healed, it’s definitely a bad plan. Yet that’s exactly what the man described as dating the bride literally, right before the groom decides to do in this moderately entertaining story of undying love expressed at exactly the wrong time.

Adam (Justin Long) gets a call in the film’s opening scene from Allison (Cobie Smulders), his ex-girlfriend, who wastes no time before telling him that she’s getting married, and that she wants him to come because they had always known they would be at each other’s weddings, though of course they expected them to be the same event. Against the advice of anyone he asks and with a burning desire to get her back, Adam travels to what promises to be an awkward affair, which includes misadventures like his truly bizarre date (Kristen Schaal) and an attempt to befriend Allison’s annoyingly perfect fiancé (Ryan Hansen).

This isn’t Long’s first foray into ill-fated wedding films. In 2013, he starred in “Best Man Down,” which cast him as a groom whose best man dies during the wedding. Here, his affect is spot-on, but his character is very directionless, with little guidance from Smulders’ Allison, who is charming in flashbacks where the two flirt endearingly, but whose present-day bride-to-be likes bite. The two have chemistry, to be sure, but filling in precious few details about their now-ended relationship serves as a loss for the film rather than a gain.

Anna Kendrick chose to attend a wedding even though she probably shouldn’t have in a film from earlier this year, “Table 19.” While that comedy wasn’t entirely fantastic, it did manage to be funny, and utilized its ensemble strongly. This film isn’t able to do that nearly as well, giving John Cho, Luis Guzman, Lea Thompson, and Peter Gallagher all smart parts that, on their own, are fun, but don’t add up to much. Hansen is probably the best part of the film, delivering the most honest performance as a ham who’s not that bad of a guy. This film provides some entertainment, but it doesn’t really know what it wants to be.


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