Posts Tagged ‘Meredith Hagner’

Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz

“THE OATH”  My rating: B 

93 minutes | MPAA rating: R

One of the America’s most hellish rituals — the family Thanksgiving gathering — takes on even more demonic dimensions in Ike Barinholtz’s “The Oath.”

Barinholtz, a familiar face whose name you never knew, does triple duty here, serving as writer, director and star,  combining the usual holiday dysfunction with torn-from-the-headlines politics. The resulting black comedy is like finding a hand grenade in the roasted turkey.

As the film begins we learn that the U.S. president has instituted something called “the Patriot’s Oath,” a sort of loyalty waiver citizens are expected to sign.

“Nothing happens if you don’t sign,” assures a White House spokeswoman. “But there are perks if you do.”

The news infuriates suburban couple Chris (Barinholtz) and Kai (Tiffany Haddish).  Theirs is a mixed-race marriage, and as one might deduce, they are fiercely liberal.

Especially Chris, who is one of those apoplectic lefties who invariably takes a confrontational and self-righteous approach to political matters.

The citizenry has a year to decide  if they will sign; the new law goes into effect on (appropriately) Black Friday, a day after Thanksgiving.

Chris and Kai’s family gathering is like a cross section of the voting public.  Chris’ brother (Jon Barinholtz, the writer/director’s brother) is a sort of perennial frat dude whose new girlfriend (Meredith Hagnar) has a world view cloned from Ann Coulter.

Chris’ sister (Carrie Brownstein) is a fellow liberal, as is her hubby (Jay Duplass), who has come down with an intestinal monster and spends most of the holiday curled in a ball.

Mom (Nora Dunn) tries to referee the mounting sibling turmoil (“Hey, no politics!”);  Dad (Chris Ellis) keeps as low a profile as possible.

Prays Chris: “God, who I don’t believe in, please give me strength to get through the next three days.”


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Meredith Hagner, Alex Karpovsky, Wyatt Russell

“FOLK HERO  & FUNNY GUY” My rating: C+

88 minutes | No MPAA rating

A moderately diverting buddy/road movie, “Folk Hero &  Funny Guy” isn’t incisive enough to capture our imaginations. But it isn’t awful, either.

Jeff Grace’s comedy stars Alex Karpovsky (a regular on HBO’s “Girls”) as Paul, a professional standup comic whose career has hit a creative wall.  Basically he’s been repeating his material for so long that he’s been bypassed by the modern era. (I mean, the guy still tries to get mileage out of a joke about e-vite invitations.)

Turns out Paul’s best friend from childhood, Jason (Wyatt Russell), is a nationally known folk rocker with a burgeoning career.  Jason suggests that Paul accompany him on his new solo tour as an opening act.

Paul needs the work and the exposure.  Jason wants to re-bond with his bud. What could go wrong?

Enter Bryn (Meredith Hagner), a guitar-strumming gal whom they encounter at an open-mic night.  Jason impulsively asks her to join the tour (after impulsively taking her to bed).

Except that schlubby Paul also has the hots for this newcomer, who seems to be doing a pretty good job of keeping both men at arm’s length.

And that, folks, is pretty much it.

You can say this for “Folk Hero & Funny Guy”…it feels right.  Paul’s comedy is sometimes wince-inducing, but it has enough sparks of wit to let us know he’s capable of more.

Russell and Hagner’s musical passages are, well, pretty freakin’ great.  In most movies like this the musical performances are never good enough to convince you that the  audience in the movie is genuinely  going nuts for the concert. Here you believe.

| Robert W. Butler

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