Last night Zach Galifianakis helped close an opening weekend of showings and conversations about Nick Offerman's film and 2012 SXSW darling Somebody Up There Likes Me at Cinefamily. Offerman, the film's producer and co-star, brought out the likes of Jason Schwartzmann, Chris Pratt, and Galifianakis over the course of the weekend to trade quiet musings and add a little star power to the film's release.
"I love the movie, it has a lot of very beautiful women in it...and also some guys...," said Offerman mugging at the fact that his wife Megan Mullally had a small but hilarious role as an absurd therapist. "I think he really has a smart sense of humor through which he protects his heart from the world," he said earnestly of writer-director Bob Byington. To which Galifianakis responded, "Woah."
I don't think Zach was quite so prepared for candor. Or maybe he was.
And the film itself had that very same quality where serious doesn't go too far before absurd takes over, and then returns to serious, and so forth. Thankfully, Somebody Up There Likes Me is mostly an absurdist inversion of the cloyingly annoying mumblecore movement. It's actually pretty easy to confuse the two if you're not paying close enough attention, but Byington is too smart and Offerman too funny to get stuck in that syrupy mumble-bucket.
The story skips through thirty-five years in the perpetually emotionally stagnant life of Max Youngman, artfully played by Keith Poulson, his best and only friend Sal (Offerman), and the woman they both kind of want to be with. As they stagger through misguided relationships -- punctuated by animated Bob Sabiston vignettes and a light, bouncy score from Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio -- there's a joyless indifferent quality to their meanderings even as the jokes flow.
The film opens with Offerman's poignant observation, "I think it's funny we all sort of think we're not gonna die." Then there's the introduction of a mysterious fountain-of-youth McGuffin suitcase that casts an animated blue glow upon Max. We get to watch as Max, remarkably, never visibly ages. For all his foibles and ups and downs, marked by neat five-year increments, he looks the same and yet remains as emotionally retarded as he is from the outset. It causes us to wonder: is that the point? We can chase a youthful visage and pursue wealth, but remain hopelessly lacking in wisdom? Age is no substitute for perspicacity? What's really in the suitcase, Nick!?
"Well, there was a sequence after the credits that got cut," Offerman explained to an audience member who asked the very same question. "It says '40 years earlier' and it just shows my character just jerking off into the suitcase. So it's really full of sparkly blue jizz."
Exactly what we were thinking.