Review: They/Them/Us (San Diego International Film Festival)

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Title: They/Them/Us
Director: Jon Sherman
Starring: Joey Slotnick, Amy Hargreaves, Jack Steiner
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 1 hr 30 mins

What It Is: A story about Charlie and Lisa, two divorced parents in their 40’s who find themselves at a midlife crossroads. Both are single parents and they have four complicated teenagers. The road they end up taking will either make a new family… or break one apart.

What We Think: They/Them/Us is a fairly decent comedy. While it does juggle multiple themes and tropes, it still finds a way to gather a few laughs. There are one too many films like these floating around in the independent film sea – unfortunately, it doesn’t try to differentiate itself that much from its fauna.

Performance-wise, everyone is good. Joey Slotnick is expressive and deadpan (the latter being what this film thrives at in terms of writing), and the supporting cast are fine on a surface level – it’s the deeper emotion that isn’t felt here, especially when one of the film’s big themes is about separation and to some extent maturing. It feels like there are three different films stuffed into 90 minutes, with a few plot threads running amiss them – it’s not incoherent, just a bit much.

The positives here are everything having to do with Charlie and his relationship with Lisa (played charmingly by Amy Hargreaves). From the beginning of the film, we don’t get as much of an emotional tether to Charlie’s ex-wife and their dynamic as much as we should have for how their characters develop, which makes his relationship with Lisa more interesting to watch. And yes, this film is very much adult, dealing with mid-life situations that I’m sure parents in their 50’s can relate to, so I can completely assure the target demographic here that this will not bore you in the slightest.

As for younger audiences… well, there’s a young audience member writing this review, who still appreciates its strengths, but abhors its flaws. It’s witty enough (the younger cast does breathe more life into the more grey areas), but the script felt like it was hitting us over the head with certain concepts, as well as conversations that didn’t feel as ‘raw’ as they did reluctantly.

What We Think: C+; They/Them/Us is fairly enjoyable, and if you’re looking for a good rom-com/drama/satire (I could add a few more in there), this would be a good pick! Just don’t bring your kids in to watch it, as they’ll probably be as disinterested in the main story like the ones in the film.

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