People, Places, Things

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People, Places, Things

Charming but lightweight films in which single dads struggle to balance bringing up their adorable kids with the demands of their creative side aren’t exactly thin on the ground – we’ve already had Infinitely Polar Bear this year – and it’s often hard to avoid the impression that simply seeing a single dad at work is mean to be quirky enough to make their story worth telling.
At least here the presence of Flight of the Conchords member Jermaine Clement provides the central role with some much-needed charism: a New York cartoonist struggling to deal with a break-up. That’s not to say Will (Clement) doesn’t have actual problems. It’s been a year since he caught his partner having sex with a chunky “Off Broadway monologist” during their twin daughter’s birthday party. While the kids seem to be alright Will – judging by his various depressive cartoons – isn’t doing so well.
His teaching job is hardly inspiring, as a parent he’s loving but haphazard, and his dating life is non-existent (until a student fixes him up with her mum). So when his ex announces she’s pregnant and is about to get married, that’s just the icing on a pretty crappy cake. With a tone that veers between earthy slice-of-life and wacky gag-fest (the script has a real weakness for funny one-liners than undercut a scene’s emotion) and a story that isn’t exactly big on drama, this relies more than is healthy on Clement’s charm to hold it all together. While he manages it extremely well, the result is a film that leaves you feeling like Clement’s ready to move up to weightier – or even just funnier – work.
Reviewed by Anthony Morris