Does Demetri Martin not have friends who could tell him, “You know, if you have Kevin Kline and Mary Steenburgen in your movie, maybe it should be about them.” It’s not that there isn’t some pleasantly amusing material in the writer/director/star’s central story, where he plays a cartoonist named Dean Saris whose grief over his mother’s death has left him adrift. Martin channels more than a whiff of Annie Hall in a narrative that finds him falling in love with a kindred spirit (Gillian Jacobs), taking a trip to Los Angeles and playing with his visual structure by including subtitles, split screens and animation. But Martin’s deadpan persona—which works perfectly for his surreal standup comedy—doesn’t translate to the central performance of a romantic dramedy. That’s especially evident whenever he switches focus to the secondary story, as Dean’s widowed father (Kline) dips a tentative toe into a new relationship with his real estate agent (Steenburgen), in a subplot that contains more emotion than anything the meandering main plot can muster. As funny as Martin can be, he still needs to learn the strengths of his own stories.
Director: Demetri Martin
Producer: Giles Andrew, Elliott Watson, Jessica Latham, Demetri Martin, Charles Denton, Tim Nye, David Zwaik, Adi Ezroni, Mandy Tagger Brockey and Ryan Brooks
Cast: Demetri Martin, Kevin Kline, Gillian Jacobs, Rory Scovel, Christine Woods, Ginger Gonzaga, Briga Heelan, Reid Scott, Mary Steenburgen, Asif Ali, Kate Berlant, Nicholas Delany and Meryl Hathaway