(director/writer: Jack Begart; screenwriter: Dani Goffstein; cinematographer: Christopher Ripley; editor: Jake Torchin; music: Ari Balouzian, Dominic Fike; cast: Jena Malone (Jessica), Sante Bentivoglio (Greg), Fred Melamed (Augustus), Talia Ryder (Karla, Young Lover), Gaby Hoffmann (a female version of Martin Solomon), Dominic Fike (AJ, Young Lover), David Schwimmer (Martin Solomon); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Darren Aronofsky, Andy Cohen, Dylan Golden, Brendan Naylor, Sam Canter, Noor Alfallah; AC Films; 2024)

“My advice is that It’s not a good idea to make two different movies and release them as one movie.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The feature film directorial debut of music video director Jack Begart, who is credited with directing Olivia Rodrigo’s “get him back!”. Here he co-writes the surreal comedy crime drama with Dani Goffstein, an intellectual misfire satire on unrealized ambitions among those in the film industry. It bombs as it tries to fit two films into one. The film’s dull first half doesn’t match its more lively second half in story or emotional intensity, even if thematically connected by an addiction premise.

Martin Solomon (David Schwimmer) is a respectable drug-addict, middle-aged TV writer for a corny but hit sitcom called The Switch Up. He lives in LA with his girlfriend Jessica (Jena Malone), whom he has ill-feelings towards. The neurotic Martin has hit a critical time in his life and aspires to be a TV director, while slamming the industry for the lazy products it produces.

While at dinner he spouts off on how limited is narrative filmmaking. His friend Augustus (Fred Melamed) replies television can offer more than one point of view–something film can’t do.

It’s slickly directed as an experimental film. The cranky downer Martin, in a voiceover, narrates his story, as he tells of his desires to direct a movie about death and middle-age.

The first half of the film takes up Martin’s argument against the entertainment industry, using several animation forms to get across how his twisted mind works.

The film’s second half veers away from the story of the first half. Instead it tells the story of two young recovering drug addicts, AJ (Dominic Fike, a musician) and Karla (Talia Ryder), who get involved in a drug-related nightmare over a lost backpack.

Wherever this puzzling flick was heading was too incoherent to comment on with clarity. My advice is that It’s not a good idea to make two different movies and release them as one movie.

The creative filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, who directed “Requiem for a Dream,” was the executive producer–which tells me he probably saw something in this pill-popper project that was worth telling. But what that was passed over my head.

It Played at the Sundance Film Festival.