Mr. Jealousy

Bomb Rating: 

This film relies heavily on narration, which is another way for the writer or the director to say "I'm not good enough to have the characters' actions explain what's going on, so I'm going to have them tell you."

Obviously, this is exactly the opposite of the effect director Noah ("Kicking and Screaming") Baumbach is seeking. What he wants if for you to think, "Oh, narration, that's something I usually see in books. This must be a very smart movie." To beat this point home a little bit harder, the narration isn't done by the film's main character, Lester (Eric Stoltz), but by one of the minor characters, Dashiell Frank (Chris Eigeman), whose profession is that of a famous writer. Well aware that narration is a pathetically weak way to tell a cinematic story, Baumbach tries to legitimize his blunder by having a character who is a writer tell it. Nice try.

The difference between a "Mr. Jealousy" with narration and a "Mr. Jealousy" without narration is kind of like the difference between watching a televised golf tournament with commentary and with the mute button on. Either way, the actual subject is still dull as a baby's ass. The story here is that Lester hooks up with Ramona (Annabella Sciorra), but is crippled by his need to know about her past relationships. This prompts him to attend a therapy group -- albiet in the guise of his friend, Vince (Carlos Jacott) -- with one of Ramona's ex-boyfriends, Dashiell, in a session led by Dr. Poke (Peter Bogdanovich).

When he's not in therapy sharing his "first hand" knowledge about Vince's impending marriage to Lucretia (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), Lester walks around with an idiotic smile on his face, which I presume is some sort of advanced acting method conceived by everybody's independent film star, Eric Stoltz. Having run out of new independent characters to tackle and independent films with original subject matter to act in, Stoltz's smile suggests that, having undergone the equivalent of an acting lobotomy, he feels no pain.

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