'Jason Nash Is Married': Film Review
Friday, Sept. 5 (Comedy Central Films)
Jason Nash, Busy Philipps, Andy Richter, Rob Corddry, Nick Swardson, David Koechner
Was married, is more like it
A struggling comedian tries to maintain self-respect in a relationship with a more successful partner in Jason Nash Is Married, a sketchily autobiographical outgrowth of web series and podcasts that have kept the real Jason Nash afloat in recent years. Stuffed with enough bit parts for better-known comics that it should recoup its meager investment on their backs alone, the uneven dramedy may amuse Nash's fans on small screens but isn't likely to win new ones or to play long in theatrical bookings.
After decades of sitcoms that insert footage of their stars' stand-up acts into scripted comedy, have we now entered a world in which the same is done with podcasts? In ways that will elicit unflattering comparisons to Marc Maron's self-titled IFC series, Nash uses scenes of his own soul-baring podcast as a continuing commentary here. But where Maron's caustic self-analyses probe deep emotional issues without sentimentality, Nash's relationship talk grows increasingly maudlin during the film; by the time he cries in close-up while speaking to the microphone, viewers may wonder if his breakthroughs are a put-on leading to a comic reveal. They aren't, and this film's mix of sincerity and self-deprecating satire just don't fly in the end.
More successful are the scenes leading up to this, flashbacks to a time when the still-married Nash (he's separated in the film's present tense) hustles to break through as a TV performer while his wife, Busy (Busy Philipps), works happily in TV development. The film is fairly one-sided in its view of this dynamic, but while Nash complains his wife made him "eat s— over and over again," the actress' performance is largely sympathetic, displaying a surprising amount of patience for the man-child she married. (They also had two children together, though the film dumbly behaves as if they're less of a concern in the marriage than debates over a kitchen remodel.)
Nash hustles around Los Angeles, taking meetings with self-absorbed know-nothings (including T.J. Miller, as comically annoying here as on Silicon Valley) and trying to ride the coattails of established stars (like an in-recovery comic legend played by Matt Walsh). The cobbled-together script relies a bit too much on a job arising from a misunderstanding: When Nash tells a producer he's hoping to work with "David Fincher, maybe," he suddenly finds himself pitching a series titled Adventure Baby. But the ludicrousness of that idea, and the deluded optimism with which Nash embraces the prospect of selling it, says more about the film's semi-fictional protagonist than anything Nash learns about himself through podcasting.
Production company: Comedy Central Films
Cast: Jason Nash, Busy Philipps, Andy Richter, Rob Corddry, Nick Swardson, David Koechner
Director-screenwriter: Jason Nash
Producers: Andy Wood, Kayci Thomas, Mike Napoli, Jordan Tuerler, Zach Ames, Daniel Milder, Jakob Markovitz, Neil Mahoney, Lauren McCarthy, Matthew Vaughan
Executive producers: David Martin, Jason Nash, Ravi Subramanian
Director of photography/editor: Ravi Subramanian
Music: Dustin Painter, Dan Long
No rating, 84 minutes