Friday, February 22, 2019

Movie with Abe: Paddleton

Directed by Alex Lehmann
Released February 22, 2019

Movies about best friends come in many different forms. Often, the relationship at their center evolves over time, affected by new influences and particularly new people who might come into one of both of their lives. How that friendship came to be isn’t necessarily crucial, but whether it survives the test of time depends on the ability of both people to function around others and still preserve that same connection. When the two people involved have no one else in their lives aside from each other, it’s easier for them to stay close, with the only true obstacle coming when one of them may no longer be around anymore.

Director Alex Lehmann and stars Mark Duplass and Ray Romano discuss the film at Sundance

Andy (Ray Romano) accompanies his best bud and neighbor Michael (Mark Duplass) to the doctor, where he learns of his terminal cancer diagnosis. As the two spend each night watching kung fu movies and doing puzzles over homemade pizza, Michael tells Andy that he has received a prescription for medication that will allow him to end his life, which he wants to do before his condition worsens. Unprepared to say goodbye to his friend, Andy tags along with Michael on the long drive to procure the medication, indicating his reticence to allow him to go forward with this irreversible decision at many points along the way.

Arielle and Abe with Ray Romano at Sundance before the world premiere

This was a very poignant and wonderful film for my wife Arielle, who wrote her Masters’ thesis on Medical Aid in Dying and was thrilled to see it earn a prime spotlight that involves mostly accurate representations, with this as a hopeful start of many more films dealing directly and honestly with death. This is a comedy that deals with one of the only inevitable things in life, with Andy pausing frequently to question Michael’s steadfast attitude towards taking this route, closed off to the notion of waiting it out to see if some miracle cure will buy him more time. The way that both their friendship and their path to this point are portrayed feels particularly honest and real.

Mark Duplass and Ray Romano discuss the film at Sundance

Romano and Duplass are a fantastic duo, playing exceptionally off each other as they engage in casual conversation, mostly about the random things that come into their heads and the interests that so delight them on a regular basis without much variety. Romano in particular demonstrates that he’s still a formidable comic, delivering many of the film’s best lines. The screenplay, by director Alex Lehmann and Duplass, is very funny, influenced heavily by Romano and Duplass’ improvisation. This is a winning, lovely film, mirroring the cycle of life, filled with highs and lows that often come at exactly the same time.


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