I’m guessing this movie isn’t going to get the good reviews it’s deserving of, because of the way it makes moviegoers feel. There are also a few problems in the tonal shift of things, and a scene or two that felt like it was meant for a sitcom. Makes sense, since writer/director Jill Soloway cut her teeth on the shows Six Feet Under and United States of Tara. Generally speaking, this was a solid first film.
The movie starts with some great one-liners. Kathryn Hahn, always funny as a supporting player in movies like Step Brothers and We’re the Miller’s, should get Oscar consideration for her portrayal of a stay-at-home mom. It’s the type of performance that Sarah Jessica Parker could’ve done if it was just a straight comedy, or Catherine Keener if she were younger. Laura Linney might be the only other actress I could see doing as well in this role. Hahn is just brilliant.
Husband Jeff (Josh Radnor) providers her and son Logan with a nice life in Southern California, but their sex life has hit the skids.
In a hysterical scene that’s perfectly underwritten, she walks out wearing panty hose, which is a look Radnor doesn’t care for. He says she looks like a bank robber, and she has a line like, “Don’t press the panic button, or everyone gets it,” before thrusting her hips and making a shooting sound with her mouth. My description of it doesn’t do it justice, but trust me – it’s the fun type of real conversation couples have when they’re cracking each other up in the bedroom.
They may laugh in the bedroom, but that and sleeping is about all they do there. So they get that idea that everyone in movies and TV shows get – let’s head to the strip club. Once there, they meet exotic dancer McKenna (JunoTemple). Temple is an impressive British actress (Notes on a Scandal, Killer Joe, Greenberg, Dark Knight Rises) and she’s impressive in this. Some might be turned off by a few of the things she does, but they never really paint the character as anything other than what she is – a stripper that also has johns on the side. Every time she’s on screen, you’re wondering if that will be the moment everything comes crashing down; or perhaps she’ll change, and this environment surrounded by the right people is just what she needs.
I’m guessing the way this jumps from a dark comedy to a hardcore drama, will be a bit much for audiences. My friends and I rolled through the punches and were enjoying the ride, as uncomfortable as it may have been.
The supporting cast is superb. I was nice to finally see Keegan Michael Key in a film. He’s from the great sketch comedy troupe Key and Peele. Jane Lynch plays it straight as the therapist, although many will laugh at her lines in anticipating of a joke. Jessica St. Clair (Bridesmaids, Wanderlust) has an interesting small part as a friend, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Michaela Watkins – after loving her so much as the sister in In a World…to see her playing an annoying Jewish mom that pesters everyone around her to get involved in her various projects.
This picture was very smartly written. I like that we never once think Josh Radnor is considering sleeping with stripper staying in his house, and he never seems to warm up to her being there either. What parent would?
There are scenes when characters get drunk and do things that seem authentic to what has been established for those characters.
The soundtrack smokes, with lots of Funkadelic and some Alabama Shakes.
This movie isn’t John Cassavetes’ Faces, but it’s a lot closer to that than the Ed Harris/Melaine Griffith film Milk Money.
This gets 4 stars out of 5.
But wait! It’s a review double feature!
I’ve done reviews in the form of a song before. And in Woody Allen’s last disappointing picture, I ended the review as if Andrew Dice Clay was doing old nursing rhymes about it. Since the song “Afternoon Delight” isn’t played anywhere in the film, I thought I’d write a second review to the tune of Afternoon Delight. My apologies to all the members of Starland Vocal Band.
Gonna go to the movie, they turn out the lights
Gonna grab some salty popcorn, what a delight.
My motto’s always been – can’t you just sit tight?
Do we have to hear your baby, or see your cell’s blue light?
When, everybody’s quieter in the movie today
We can enjoy the characters written by Jill Soloway.
JunoTemple workin’ up the casts appetites
Kathryn Hahn complains to Jane Lynch, it’s a delight.
Watkins and St. Claire play the friends just right
And Josh Radnor is the husband, who Hahn just can’t excite….
The strippers plight –
It adds afternoon delight.
Started out that morning feeling so uptight
Early morning screenings just don’t excite.
But I grabbed some Red Vines and this movie made me think
I might really have liked watching Afternoon Delight
Four stars, I just might…
for Afternoon Delight.
Please, let this make some money at the box office
The Butler and One Direction can’t be all there is!
This movie should get you out tonight
Look forward to seeing Afternoon Delight
It’s not like Oliver Stone or Woody Allen’s Jasmine
Convince your husband there are strippers and he’ll want to go in.
See this movie tonight