This Is a Movie Review: Indie Rom-Coms Continue Chugging Along with Demetri Martin’s ‘Dean’

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This review was originally posted on News Cult in May 2017.

Starring: Demetri Martin, Kevin Kline, Gillian Jacobs, Rory Scovel, Mary Steenburgen

Director: Demetri Martin

Running Time: 87 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for A Little Bit of Language, A Little Bit of Relations

Release Date: June 2, 2017 (Limited)

If you look at Demetri Martin – the moptopped, artistically inclined comedian whose Wikipedia page once listed Socrates as an influence – and think “romantic comedy lead,” then chances are that you and I would get along famously. And wouldn’t you know it, we now have the perfect topic to discuss: Dean, a minor-key charmer serving as Martin’s directorial debut.

Martin plays the title character, a Brooklyn illustrator living through with the fallout of his mother’s death and a breakup with his ex-fiancée (Christine Woods). Instead of dealing with all that, he flies out to Los Angeles to meet with an ad agency interested in using his drawings. Alas, the pitch and the hipster-bro vibe put him off. (SNL’s Beck Bennett is perfect as the exec who remains on his office treadmill the entire scene.) At this point, Dean really should head back home and sort out matters with his father (Kevin Kline), who is eager to sell their house. But he finds himself too entranced by La La Land to head home, because he meets this girl named Nicky, and she is played by Gillian Jacobs, a Pittsburgh native who often inhabits West Coast gals who inadvertently knock the lead characters out of their stupors and makes it look effortless (it’s not a Manic Pixie Dream Girl thing, it’s a chill vibe thing).

Spoiler alert: this budding romance does not exactly end happily. But that does not mean there is no satisfying resolution to be had. The reason the title is Dean as opposed to “Dean & Nicky” or “Millennial Love Story” is because it is about the individual. (Dad, also gets his own storyline, a suitably engaging romance with his realtor, played by Mary Steenburgen.) There are plenty of stories about looking for love and growing up, and this one is hardly groundbreaking. But they keep being told because new storytellers keep creeping towards their thirties and forties. What we as viewers humbly request of them along the way is that they find honesty and individuality in their voice. And in the guise of Dean, I am happy to hear from Demetri Martin has to say.

Dean is Recommended If You Like: Demetri Martin’s illustrations, (500) Days of SummerCeleste and Jesse Forever

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Pubic Clown Wigs

This Is a Movie Review Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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What up with Disney ransacking its vault to remake its own animated hits into (mostly[-ish]) live-action versions? This is not an inherently bad idea. These are stories that have been told over and over (often in fairy tale form) and will continue to be told over and over, so why not spruce them up with some 21st Century Pizzazz?

What does new-flavor Beauty and the Beast offer over the 1991 toon? Belle’s an inventor, but that does not factor in too much. There is an “exclusively gay moment” for Le Fou, but it is so inconsequential that you might need a study guide to locate it (I certainly did). So ultimately, this is about some legends of acting and singing giving it a whirl. Nothing earth-shattering, but we’re in good hands.

I give Beauty and the Beast 3 Rose Petals out of 5 Snowy Days in June.