Review: The Problem With People

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Title: The Problem With People
MPA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Chris Cottam
Starring: Jane Levy, Paul Reiser, Colm Meaney
Runtime: 1 hr 41 mins

What Is It: Two distant cousins – Barry (Paul Reiser) from NYC and Ciaran (Colm Meaney) from Ireland – come together to put an end to a generations long family feud. Things take a sad turn when Ciaran’s father dies of old age. To make things complicated, his father’s will left half of the land to Barry, which angers Ciaran and causes him to lash out against his cousin. Barry won’t back down and the two of them engage in a bitter feud that has consequences for each of them. Will they be able to repair their fractured relationship, or will their feud continue to repeat the history of their past elders?

What We Think: If the classic set-up of two estranged family members clashing together is familiar to a lot of movies you’ve seen, then you’re not alone. I’m not inherently opposed to clichés, just as long as there’s a unique spin to them. I also don’t think predictable narratives are a bad thing either, as long as the characters and the world the story takes place in are engaging. Unfortunately, The Problem With People is about as cookie-cutter dry as it gets. The film is filled with overplayed clichés we’ve seen dozens of times with nothing unique to offer. There’s not a single remarkable thing in this movie that stuck out to me. The characters aren’t much better either, and I can easily see their actions coming from a mile away. Plus, the movie commits the biggest sin of comedy: It’s not funny. I know humor is subjective and it may depend on mood, but none of the comedy in this movie landed for me. There’s a running gag that has Barry having urination problems due to his old age (Get It, because he’s old. Old people issues are funny. Why aren’t you laughing?). Much of the supporting characters feel bland and their humor feels forced rather than organic. I can’t really say the movie is awful because it does get the job done and doesn’t pretend to be what is isn’t, but there’s nothing for me to latch onto here. The performances are fine; Reiser and Meaney have decent chemistry and I think their dynamic might’ve worked better with a film that took more chances and had more of a bite. There are hints of sharp dark comedic wit sprinkled in here and there, but the movie plays the whole affair extremely safe. There’s also not many chances taken with the film’s aesthetics. The film looks like any other brightly coloured broad comedy title you see while scrolling through Amazon Prime or Netflix. The cutaway shots of the Ireland countryside during the opening credits are the only time the film looks like it has a personality. Another least favorite aspect of the film is the music. The music is uninspired and sounds reminiscent of a bunch of temp tracks you hear in almost every broad studio comedy. This may be a personal bias, but I find this type of music lousy and artificial. Also, do the filmmakers think the audience isn’t smart to know a film is set in Ireland and have to play Irish music in the background to let them know that’s where the film takes place in? This may be a cultural thing, but it sort of feels like pandering instead of it sounding natural.

Our Grade: C-. It’s a serviceable watch, I suppose but this isn’t a film I see myself coming back to. The time it took me to write this review, this movie is slowly fading away from my memory. For forgettable movies like this, it’s a good thing I always take notes. If this type of comedy works on some people, then good for them. Who am I take away their enjoyment? I guess if there’s anything this film does get right is that it makes me want to visit Ireland. Those beautiful static shots in the film’s opening were convincing enough for me get outside my comfort zone.

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