(director: Greg Kinnear; screenwriter: Stephen Mazur; cinematographer: John Bailey; editor: David Rosenbloom; music: Rolfe Kent; cast: Greg Kinnear (Phil McGuire), Emily Mortimer (Alicia Fisk), Megan Charpentier (Molly), Bradley Whitford (Michael Fisk), Jay Duplass (Malcolm), Robert Forster (Bing Fisk), Taylor Schilling (Samantha Ford), Luke Wilson (Detective Welling), Kurt Fuller (Dean Wurtz), April Cameron (Rahel), Sarah Dugdale (Kara); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Aaron L. Gilbert, Sandy Stern, Bradley Thomas, Dan Friedkin; Quiver Distribution; 2019)

“Tired and unconvincing middle-brow sitcom-like dramedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Greg Kinnear is a longtime actor making his directing debut in this tired and unconvincing middle-brow sitcom-like dramedy, that he also stars in. Its delicate story is written in an insensitive and crass way by Stephen Mazur. The narrative is about a depressed dentist, having a mid-life crisis, who is trying to figure out why one of his patients, who had a seemingly perfect life, would suddenly commit suicide. This whimsical film, a mere trifle, belabors to get comedy out of its sicko premise and its annoying, skin-deep, nerdy main character.

Phil McGuire (Greg Kinnear), a Portland, Oregon, depressed dentist, who was recently divorced, and feels sorry for himself to the point he contemplates committing suicide but chickens out, desperately wants to find out how he can make his life better. So he pretends to be a handyman named Spiros Papalapadopoulos, who is an old friend from Greece of the man who just killed himself. The bearded Phil, dressed like a peasant from Greece and sporting a phony Greek accent, sneaks into the office of Michael (Bradley Whitford) to search for answers to his quest and is caught by his widow, the symphony orchestra cello player, Alicia Fisk (Emily Mortimer), a day after her suicide husband is buried. Michael was Phil’s patient, who seemed to Phil like a most happy man and even boasted in the chair that he has such a good life. The award-winning college history professor and best-selling author, also professed to be happily married and proud of his lovely daughter.

The preposterous plot is about how the dentist works his way into the life of the widow and by living a lie in a double-life again learns to love life through his false alter ego. All I can say, is what a load of horse manure!

Robert Forster, Greg Kinnear, Luke Wilson, Jay Duplass, Kurt Fuller, Emily Mortimer, Bradley Whitford, and Taylor Schilling in Phil (2019)

REVIEWED ON 7/20/2019       GRADE: C-