Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Netflix's latest: a James C. Strouse trifle titled THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES

Not terribly bad, but unfortunately not very good either, THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES, starring an either miscast or mis-directed Jessica Williams, makes its streaming debut via Netflix this Friday, July 28. As written and directed by James C. Strouse (shown below and who, as Jim Strouse, did a hell of a lot better with his earlier People Places Things), this thankfully short movie introduces us to a character who, in current rom-com fashion, is incredibly inappropriate.

Except when, conveniently, she isn't. This little matter of conveniences sticks out throughout the film like a sore thumb. You may notice it first as Jessica has a date with a new guy (Chris O'Dowd, as delightful and real as always) and suddenly decides to have a few "honest" moments. Great. But then we're back to the nonsense again. Our girl Jessica (below) is a control freak, and this is understandable when so many things in her life are going wrong -- from significant others to the workplace to her lifelong love of theater.

Nonetheless, the girl is, as they say, a handful, carrying her inappropriateness into every area of her life. At best she's mildly amusing; at worst, she's just annoying. -- never more so than at the family baby shower for her younger sister (below), at which her gift is both dumb and, yes, inappropriate.

The themes here include how to fit into things, what divorce does to children, hook-ups vs relationships, and commitment -- to everything from a man to the theater. Plenty of little life lessons are learned along the way, all worked out sweetly and conveniently, and, as with most rom-coms these days, much too quickly and easily.

I don't think I've seen Ms Williams in anything other than Mr. Strouse's earlier People Places Things, in which she was quite good. I suspect that she is not being shown to her best here, but as Mr. O'Dowd (above) notes at one point, she does have a beautiful smile.

If you're interested, the only place to see The Incredible Jessica James right now (starting this Friday, anyway) is via Netflix streaming. So: your move. (That's Lakeith Stanfield, above, left, who plays Jessica's ex very well, even though his character, too, seems only quasi-real.)

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