Thursday, December 31, 2009

FitzGibbon/Doherty's A FILM WITH ME IN IT: 2010 arrives with a crack, black comedy

Twits of various sorts -- male variety -- people the new and delight-
fully funny black come-
dy A FILM WITH ME IN IT, from its two main characters -- about as useless a pair as you're likely to find -- to the subsidiaries. And while the funny, bloody events that transpire do so due to accidents involving a falling-apart apart-
ment, you can as easily see them as part of god's grand design of human error and utter laziness with which he has blessed his "children." It's been awhile since I've found myself in a nearly-empty screening room in which the few critics present were all laughing aloud this often.

The concept here is a fine one, and the tone's on target, too. We often hear the phrase "pitch-perfect" used in reviews, but it's seldom as "perfect" as you'll find here -- which is all the more surprising because the film deals with several grizzly deaths, one after another, and one funnier than the next -- due to the very clever way the director (Ian Fitzgibbon, shown above) and writer Mark Doherty (shown below, left, and cleaning the bathtub further below) prepares us for all this. We go right along with it, too, laughing mightily, despite the grim proceedings. This is due partly I think to the deaths being "accidental" rather than murderous, which might make them creepier, more suspenseful and such, but would not allow us to laugh our heads off while remaining as guilt-free as we do.

We may be guilt-free, but the two leading characters get off not quite so easily, for the accidents occur because of the sheer laziness and stupidity of our boys (Mike Judge should love this movie), underplayed to a "t" by writer Doherty and Dylan Moran (shown above, right). Memorable barely begins to describe these two. Doherty, with his constant hang-dog depression, and Moran, clearly suffering from the delusion that he is god's gift to everyone, could hardly be better, making perfect foils for each other and catnip for viewers in need of some great laughs.

"Deadpan" is an oft-usedword, and the films it describes are too-oft delivered in a semi-comatose state. That is not the case here. This is deadpan done right -- as funny as it gets: subtle, original and outrageous. From the beginning, with Neil Jordan playing a director for whom Doherty is auditioning, A Film With Me In It has great fun at the expense of the movies, never more so than during its finale, in which Jonathan Rhys Meyers makes an appearance. Along the way, some terrific actors -- Keith Allen, Amy Huberman and Aisling O'Sullivan -- do terrific jobs, managing, just like the leads, to make us laugh out loud while giving performances that are absolutely truthful and real.

January is a month notorious for providing the dumping ground for bad movies, with the first films released in any new year often among its worst. If A Film With Me In It is an example of what we're in for this year, 2010 might prove to be a moviegoer's blessing. The film opens New Years' Day at the IFC Center, which is becoming -- now with its five screens -- an ever more indispensable part of New York's independent and foreign film scene. Check show days and times here.

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