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‘The Year of Spectacular Men’ (review)

Produced by Gordon Gilbertson, Howard Deutch,
Zoey Deutch, Daniel Roth, Damiano Tucci

Written by Madelyn Deutch
Directed by Lea Thompson
Starring Madelyn Deutch, Avan Jogia,
Nicholas Braun, Jesse Bradford, Lea Thompson,
Cameron Monaghan, Brandon T. Jackson,
Zach Roerig, Melissa Bolona, Zoey Deutch

 

A true family affair, The Year of Spectacular Men was written by its lead, Madelyn Deutch, co-stars her sister Zoey Deutch, was directed by their mother, Lea Thompson and co-produced by their father, director Howard Deutch.

The film follows Izzy, a college graduate and aspiring actress as she navigates life in her twenties. She is terrible at picking mates and isn’t so good at relationships anyway, including those with her mom and sister.

Exacerbating things is her mother’s coming out after becoming a widow, dating a much younger woman, as well as the fact that this unknown thespian has a sister who is a big starlet in Hollywood.

I’ve never seen Madelyn before, but I liked Zoey in Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some and I spent my teenage years seeing – and mostly enjoying — Lea Thompson’s films. I was first very impressed with her in the one-two punch of All The Right Moves (still an underrated sports drama) and Red Dawn.

Then of course came Back To The Future and she became a star. I even went to see Howard The Duck opening night due in large part because Thompson was the lead.

So it brings me no great pleasure to report that Thompson’s directorial debut is a complete dud.

Beginning on a tired, faux-Woody Allen opening and only going downhill from there, Year introduces Izzy, a cute, smart but incredibly neurotic and, frankly, annoying New Yorker, and her current dipshit of a boyfriend (played a bit too broadly by Bradford).

We are then “treated” to a wink-wink intro of Izzy’s superstar sister, Sabrina, visiting NYC. It was during this scene between the two sisters that I began to worry that Year wasn’t going to be so hot.

Zoey is shrill and cartoonish and is first spotted drinking a “salad”. We’re supposed to find this hilarious and biting, I suppose, but it lands like a lead balloon.

Now, the character of Sabrina is initially SUPPOSED to be shrill – and we’re supposed to find it funny – but she just comes across as someone you’d want to spend about six seconds with then bolt.

In fact, that’s how I felt about every single character in this film. I kept hoping the film would find its footing, settle in and find a way to make its characters sympathetic, or at the very least interesting. No dice.

And can we put the kibosh on half-assed LA satires? Jokes about quinoa? Unorthodox relationships? Shallow celebrities? I live in LA, and there are plenty of quirks in this town to bust on in a smart, witty and fresh manner.

I sat down to watch Year with high hopes. Around the half hour mark, I was just waiting for it to end. It had a long way to go, and it didn’t get better. Here’s hoping the Thompson/Deutch clan avoid the obvious, self-indulgent junk and deliver a worthy film next time out.

 

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