(director/writer: Stephen Basilone; cinematographer: Felipe Vara de Rey; editor: Libby Cuenin/Stephanie Kaznocha; music: Lauren Culjak; cast: Stephen Basilone (Jeremy), Jennifer Irwin (Dr. Andrews), Jess Jacobs (Whit), Jim Rash (Larry), Finn Whitrock (Bart), Casey Wilson (Rachel), Daman Wayans Jr, (Doug), Zoe Chao (Vienna), Wendi McLendon-Covey (Patricia); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: R; producer:Deanna Barillari, Laura Lewis, Theodora Dunlap, Sam Bisbee, Audrey Rosenberg, Jess Jacobs; Invisible Pictures/Stage 6 Films/A Sony Pictures release; 2021)
“ OK if it’s not taken seriously (but a drag if taken seriously).”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The feature debut of Stephen Basilone is a campy offbeat romantic comedy. It comes with a bit of sci-fi plot contrivances and the director acting in it.
Bart (Finn Whitrock) is a writer dealing with various financial issues (unemployment & no source of income), personal issues (his woman broke off their engagement because he was unstable), emotional issues (his mom recently died of cancer), housing issues (a rent hike causes him to lose his apartment and live for free in his friend’s garage), and from untreated mental issues (We learn through phone messages left by his doctor that he’s ignoring treatment for his mental problems). At a movie theater he brings a bottle of booze inside and drinks heavily to forget his woes. After passing out, he meets there the mysterious and charming Vienna (Zoë Chao), who drags him to a nearby bar where he opens up to tell her his life is a bummer.
Bart finds it odd that after a day and a half together she always pays the tabs from a roll of bills she carries around with her. The writer also finds it odd she doesn’t have a cell phone or any ID. Well there’s an explanation for this —she comes here from outer-space, in the year 2052, and that she works for a secret branch of the NSA. Well, when I heard that, you could have probably tickled me to death because I was caught with my guard down and was further flummoxed when told Vienna returned to the past to buy stocks to raise the money to pay for her mother’s cancer surgery (I guess some 30 years later the Republicans were still blocking universal health insurance).
If things weren’t ridiculous enough already, Vienna convinces the writer to get help by tuning into singing a pop tune from her favorite band in the future, named Long Weekend. Well, the dude’s convinced she’s legit, though his best friend Doug (Daman Wayans Jr,), is not convinced. He’s the one letting him live in his garage.
It takes a dramatic incident to change everyone’s perceptions of things, and when it does and the film returns to being a conventional story, it seems to have run out of ideas.
Too bad the filmmaker can’t pull off his risky move to keep the film mysterious, but it works fine as a schlocky TV sitcom because it has a lovable goofy couple providing some laughs and sympathy for their vulnerabilities. It’s OK if it’s not taken seriously (but otherwise a bummer). If this weird conceit is your idea of something clever, I hope you enjoy the Long Weekend. I didn’t.
REVIEWED ON 3/23/2021 GRADE: C+