(EDITOR’S NOTE : With this week release of “Cyrus”, starring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill and Marisa Tomei, I am unfortunately compelled to remind CSTB readers that directors Jay and Mark Duplas have a particularly ugly resume, 2005’s “The Puffy Chair”, being the longest 85 minutes of my adult life. The following post appeared in this space on June 5, 2006)
The Puffy Chair (dir : Duplass Brothers, 2006)
(a formless, aimless paen to the emotionally and intellectually stunted, possibly coming to an arthouse near you, though not if you’re lucky)
How in blazes is this ferociously annoying film garnering favorable reviews? Are people that starved for visual stimuli that a bunch of mannerisms parading as real-human-experiences resonantes? If the loud ovation this slopfest received at the Alamo Drafthouse the other night is any indication, sadly, yes.
Let’s review the cliches on parade :
character 1, Josh (Mark Duplass, above, right) : Bob Weston lookalike who yaps on his cell during a romantic dinner with his GF, has-trouble-commiting, and acts like a dick at every available opportunity (sorry, Bob. It was only a movie)
character 2, Emily (Kathryn Aselton) : Josh’s long-suffering girl-squeeze, who exhibits no personality to speak of and expresses no original thoughts whatsoever besides being clingy and wondering why her boyfriend has to be a dick.
character 3, Rhett (Rhett Wilkins) : Josh’s space cadet brother. The closest thing “the Puffy Chair” has to a character with any unique traits. Not very unique, mind you. He hops aboard Josh & Emily’s NJ-to-ATL roadtrip in order to reconnect with his dad (who presumably, would prefer he was less of a space cadet and more of a dick, like Josh.
At the film’s conclusion, Josh and Emily break up. If space cadet Rhett gets any quality time with his estranged dad, we don’t get to see it.
Though we’re supposed to believe the road trip is what exposes the cracks in Josh and Emily’s relationship, it’s impossible to feel empathy for either of these self-absorbed, throughly uninteresting dimwits. I’m not saying that a decent film needs to have protagonists you can relate to — there are countless examples to the contrary, but these characters aren’t merely hateful. They’re deadly dull.
All of that, plus Death Cab taking Peter Gabriel’s place on the boombox ala “Say Anything”. Say what you will about Cameron Crowe’s spotty filmography, but at least his passable movies featured characters that were almost as funny as your most boring acquaintances.
I’m not saying that our Saturday night at the cinema was without any redeeming features, however. The trailer for “The Wonderful & Frightening World Of Mark E. Smith” looked pretty good (always nice to see vintage footage of Mark E. with teeth and a good band playing behind him)