Ingrid Goes West

This is another movie I missed at the press screening, but caught at the Angelika Film Center over the weekend.

Aubrey Plaza, who stars (and produced), is an acquired taste. I liked her a lot in Funny People, Scott Pilgrim, Safety Not Guaranteed, and even in the bizarre De Niro comedy Dirty Grandpa. She’s perfect in this as a mentally ill stalker, obsessed by social media. Hell, just look at her eyes. If those aren’t the eyes of an evil stalker…

Writer/director Matt Spicer deserves credit for doing a decent job on his debut film.

Things start out with Ingrid Thorburn (Plaza) crashing a wedding and macing the bride. She had good reason — she wasn’t invited. This leads to a stay at a mental hospital, some depression at home, and setting her sights on new prey — Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). She’s just been featured in Elle, and so out West Ingrid goes, to make a new BFF. She’s hoping this time it’s not just via social media, but in person.

The Sloane character is written well. She’s not a complete idiot like a Kardashian, but she’s also a bit of a hippie-dippy phoney. We can see how she’d have so many followers, though. Her husband is played by Wyatt Russell. I’ve knocked him before for getting roles simply because he’s Kurt Russell’s son, yet his acting is solid in this.

His character is dabbling at making art his career, and he seems to be growing weary of his wife. He certainly can’t stand her brother (Billy Magnussen)

Another actor in this I’ve knocked in the past; O’Shea Jackson, who was good in Straight Outta Compton, but he was playing his dad — Ice Cube. Yet as Dan Pinto — a wannabe screenwriter, who is renting a room to Ingrid — he’s perfect. He’s charming at times, and he’s not a pushover. He’s also the only likable character in the movie.

We laugh at his obsession with Batman, and that peaks with a love scene that might be the funniest of the year (I might steal a line from it when I’m in bed with my wife tonight and whisper in her ear, “Gotham needs you!”).

Perhaps with the recent death of Jerry Lewis, this movie reminded me of a more current King of Comedy. I also thought about another De Niro movie — The Fan. Of course, everyone else is going to compare it to Single White Female. And in this day and age where social media is so popular, and we know how obsessed younger people get with it, the timing is great. That doesn’t mean you won’t feel like this ground has been covered. It felt like it had, and you can probably guess what’s going to eventually happen.

Plaza and Olsen have great chemistry, and it’s interesting to learn more about these two characters. There are subtle facial expressions that tell us so much. You can believe she wouldn’t see through her new BFF’s BS, because there are times we see that she does wonder about things. For example, the boyfriend she claims to have, but that is never around.

In the third act, when we see her brother (or should I say “bro”)…it’s the only time I really wondered about the Olsen character and how believable it was. Nobody would put up with even five minutes of his insanity, even if he’s family (although you can’t help but smile every time he calls Ingrid “Olga”).

The movie does have a problem with it’s tone. It’s a black comedy, that you end up cringing for laughing at. There’s something about somebody we know has a real psychological problem and being asked to laugh at the shenanigans brought on by it.

This satire needed a bit more bite, but it was entertaining. My wife and I both enjoyed it, although she wanted to know more of her backstory. I was content with merely knowing her mother passed away. Perhaps learning a little more about what her exact mental condition was would’ve been nice.

3 stars out of 5.