'The Last Time You Had Fun': LAFF Review
Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Eliza Coupe, Demetri Martin and Kyle Bornheimer co-star in Mo Perkins’ second feature.
Comedies about grownups behaving badly are hardly an innovative trend these days and Mo Perkins’ mildly humorous sophomore feature breaks no new ground, although it passes time harmlessly enough. Indie fests will likely take notice based upon the film’s Los Angeles Film Festival world premiere, plausibly followed by limited theatrical and digital release.
In the rarefied setting of eastside Los Angeles, thirty-ish (plus) homemaker Alison’s (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) routine tending to her husband and young daughter is disrupted when her wild-child younger sister Ida (Eliza Coupe) turns up unannounced, escaping the confines of her parents’ home, where she’s ignominiously ended up post-breakup with her enthusiastically unfaithful husband. Alison decides that what both of them need is a night out, so after bribing her husband with a minor sexual favor to take over childcare for the evening, the sisters head to a local wine bar to imbibe some downmarket vino.
Meanwhile, socially challenged, sweatpants-attired Clark (Kyle Bornheimer) tries to quash married best bud Will’s (Demetri Martin) attempt to force him to celebrate his recent divorce with a visit to a strip club. His kids have other ideas, however, and kick him out of the house to join Will in the fully stocked party limo he’s hired along with smart-alecky driver Betty (Charlyne Yi). Clark does manage to amend Will’s original plan after Betty recommends a nearby wine bar, where Clark is soon attempting to hit on Ida after Will tries to force him back into the dating game.
As that gambit quickly fizzles out, the foursome do some bonding over the vagaries of married relationships and parenthood, before heading out for a night of half-hearted debauchery, courtesy of the limo’s limitless liquor supply and Betty’s conveniently flexible rules on smoking and other illicit activities in the back of the vehicle. A series of misadventures involving attempts to score pharmaceutical-grade pot, same-sex make-out sessions and skinny-dipping follow, as the sisters and their admirers couple up while trying to avoid any unsanctioned adult activities.
Perkins, directing from a script by her husband Hal Haberman, views the convention of marriage with a fairly balanced perspective and perhaps that’s what leaves the film feeling so flat. Granted, the excesses of Bridesmaids or The Hangover are not essential to sparkling relationship comedy, but Fun lacks an edge, or even much of an attitude. Blandly risque situations, featherweight banter and a hint of implied sexual impropriety have all the heft of an extended cable sitcom episode.
Or maybe it’s the casting, which draws extensively on the TV comedy background of the four leads, who all acquit themselves adequately but can’t achieve sufficient character differentiation within the ensemble. Undistinguished locations, flat lighting and primarily static setups perpetuate the small-screen aesthetic, which at least bodes well for the film’s transition to home entertainment formats.
Production company: Last Time Pictures
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Eliza Coupe, Demetri Martin, Kyle Bornheimer, Charlyne Yi
Director: Mo Perkins
Screenwriters: Hal Haberman
Producer: Drea Clark
Director of photography: Eric S. Zimmerman
Production designer: Rodrigo Cabral
Costume designer: Jocelyn Hublou Parker
Editor: Mo Perkins
Music: David Perkins
Sales: The Film Sales Company
No rating, 80 minutes