ODE TO JOY
(director/writer: Jason Winer; screenwriters: Max Werner/inspired by a story on WBEZ Chicago’s “This American Life” by Chris Higgins; cinematographer: David Robert Jones; editor: Peter Teschner; music: Jeremy Turner; cast: Morena Baccarin (Francesca), Martin Freeman (Charlie), Melissa Rauch (Bethany), Jake Lacy (Cooper), Jane Curtin (Aunt Sylvia), Shannon Woodward (Liza), Adam Shapiro (Marvin); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Mike Falbo, Ira Glass, Michael Lasker, Jimmy Miller, Alissa Shipp, Pamela Thur, Jason Winer; IFC Films; 2019)
“Brought me no joy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Longtime TV director Jason Winer (“Arthur”) is the director-writer of this TV-like sitcom comedy. It’s a run-of-the-mill comedy based on a real medical disease that real people suffer from and making this the chief source of comedy brought me no joy. It’s about a narcoleptic overcoming his fears to romance a drama queen. Co-writer Max Werner’s script is inspired by a story on WBEZ Chicago’s “This American Life” by Chris Higgins. It’s based on a real person.
Charlie (Martin Freeman, Brit actor) is an unhappy librarian because he’s unable to experience happiness suffering from an incurable narcolepsy called cataplexy, which leads to fainting spells any time he enjoys himself. Thereby to survive the hapless Charlie leads a dull life. One day the vulnerable beauty Francesca (Morena Baccarin) walks in to the library after a breakup. We learn that Francesca “always dates the ones that won’t last.” She always refuses to find happiness in her life, instead she spends her valuable time looking after her dying aunt (Jane Curtin).
Hoping to avoid the consequences of his disease Charlie has a loveless and unrewarding relationship with Bethany (Melissa Rauch) and ignores the woman he’s really attracted to, Francesca. To make sure he does so, he fixes his younger brother Cooper (Jake Lacy) up with her. Eventually Charlie finds the will to overcome his fears to follow his feelings and thereby a banal rom/com transpires.
The talented cast couldn’t overcome such a loopy narrative, and to make matters worse its initially sympathetic protagonist over time turns into a disagreeable asshole.
REVIEWED ON 8/29/2019 GRADE: C+