May has been rechristened Melanie Lynskey Month. After unintentionally watching I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (IDFAHITWA) during the same weekend, my blog partner-in-crime and I are obsessed. I dare you not to feel deep love and admiration after witnessing the beauty of Ms. Lynskey having an existential meltdown in front of children, aggressively destroying lawn art, and dreaming of a world where people stop acting like assholes.
Our first feature this month is Christa’s pick in which no wicker lawn animals were harmed.
Where to Watch:
The Uncondensed Version:
Our girl Melanie plays the role of Gina, hipster Brooklyn photographer who moves to the suburbs of Washington state with her hipster Brooklyn husband and son. Though she has just accepted a tenure-track position in a college art department and the family is looking forward to more stability, they are nevertheless sad to leave behind their friends and the cool artsy vibe.
To their amazement, the same amount of money that carved out a small Brooklyn apartment gives the family a much bigger 2-story house in the suburbs. However, they are in for some culture shocks as suburban living means navigating some oddly specific rules like children always calling adults Mr. or Mrs. (which really isn’t that odd to me, and if I ran into any of my primary school teachers, I would cringe if they insisted I call them by their first name).
All 3 members of the family have their own obstacles to tackle. Gina’s husband Mack is a writer who is procrastinating on his latest book by writing food magazine articles. He finds himself becoming a something of a local celebrity for being a published author with an agent and, more sinisterly, being commodified as quite possibly the only black person in town.
Gina is adjusting to typical academic BS, finding the tenured faculty monopolizing her time both on- and off-campus. Janeane Garofalo is weirdly one of the tenured ladies, and encourages Gina to go out drinking with her tenure committee, then shames her when she gets drunk. Sounds about right for tenured faculty.
Meanwhile, their son Clark is dealing with sudden attention from 2 girls in town who want to talk about rap and show off their dance moves for him. One of the girls, Ambrosia, takes an interest in Clark in a really uncomfortable way that fetishizes him. Shit hits the fan when Ambrosia’s mother catches them in a compromising position, causing Clark to lash out and make a decision he regrets.
Dripping with symbolism, all of the family’s personal belongings have been delayed, and Mack has discovered mold in the house that desperately needs to be removed.
With the family in chaos, perhaps the decision to move to the suburbs was a big mistake after all.
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
I’m super tired, which is one of several reasons I failed to empathize with most of the characters in this film except for Clark’s cousin, who comes to visit near the end. He’s the main source of comic relief, offering sage advice beyond his years to the entire family. However, it’s too little too late, and it doesn’t help that I didn’t particularly care about the family. We were never off to a good start as it really rubbed me the wrong way when all the members of the family were marveling about how beautiful and spacious their new house was…possibly because I’m eternally bitter about my lack of financial freedom. IDK, Mack and Gina felt way too bland to be these cool trendy artists.
It would have been cool to see more of the “before” picture of the family’s life in Brooklyn rather than hear Gina wax poetic about what a beautiful haven for amazingly talented artists and intellectuals it is. FFS, we get it—hipsters fucking love Brooklyn.
Most of the secondary characters didn’t come off much better. I really hated Ambrosia, and it took Clark a damn long time to realize she may not be an overly nice person. Christine Taylor and Janeane Garofalo were so underutilized and had maybe 5 minutes tops on screen.
I think my problem here was that I wanted this to be either funnier or more dramatic. It failed to make me laugh or produce any genuine feeling in me…except, you know, ironically. Like a Brooklyn hipster.