This movie put a lot of talent onscreen and couldn’t use it properly.
Todd Chipowski (Tyler Labine) is planning a romantic weekend at his family’s cabin to propose to his longtime girlfriend Cammie (Malin Åkerman). While everything seems to be going well at first, his slacker brother Salinger (Dan Petronijevic) and Salinger’s girlfriend Masha (Lucy Punch) show up unexpectedly. The next day, while the girls are off picking mushrooms, the pair of brothers get into an argument as Todd tries to tell Salinger to leave. Salinger tries to make it physical and Todd accidentally kills him with an axe. He covers it up, then tells Cammie everything. Cammie, determined to keep the incident secret, helps Todd plan to kill Masha. While Cammie distracts Masha, Todd tries to hit her with a cleaver, only to find himself unable to do it. Cammie then kills Masha with a frying pan. The pair chop up the bodies and drop them in the lake, at which point Todd proposes.
When the couple return, they unfortunately find out Salinger invited a ton of people to the cabin, including a very suspicious Rabbinical student named Dov (Benjamin Ayres). Dov becomes very concerned about Salinger while Todd begins to hallucinate the dead bodies of Salinger and Masha talking to him. Todd and Cammie try to keep their story straight, but end up having Dov suspect them of killing Salinger, so they kill and bury him. The police arrive based on a tip from Dov and search the premises, finding evidence of the murders but not the bodies. Eventually, Todd’s parents arrive and Todd’s mom begins to suspect them, particularly after Cammie sleepwalks while having a nightmare about murdering Salinger. A convenient drifter is arrested breaking into cabins nearby, giving Todd and Cammie an out, but Todd decides to confess and break up with Cammie. He drives to the station, pursued by Cammie, who kills a police officer before being shot repeatedly. Todd cements their breakup and she shoots him in the head before dying. The film ends with Todd now having anterograde amnesia, being cared for by his dad.
This film’s principle cast is basically a list of people who deserve better careers than they had at the time of filming. Tyler Labine is a great comic actor who starred in the show Reaper and the excellent comedy-horror film Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. If you have no idea who Dan Petronijevic is, he plays the character of “McMurray” on Letterkenny and is an absolute f*cking comedy beast in that role. Lucy Punch is one of my favorite farcical actresses and in this film she nails it as Masha as well as she nailed Esme Squalor in A Series of Unfortunate Events. You can also watch her in the BBC show Motherland. Malin Åkerman has actually been pretty successful, but she only got the lead roles in Trophy Wife and, of course, Rampage after this movie. I mean, she was technically a lead in Rampage, although she kind of got stuck between the Rock and a large ape.
The beginning of this movie, particularly watching the interactions between the two couples, is damned funny. Labine and Petronijevic have great chemistry as brothers and you can believe that one of them is the more “serious” brother while the other one picked an “artistic” path (that is almost certainly just pornography). You also get the feeling that, on some level, Todd really does want to get rid of his brother, something that really makes him feel all the more guilty later. Todd and Cammie’s relationship is not great, despite all of their pet names and seemingly shared dreams of domesticity. Basically, both of them admit that they’re too old to start over and do better. It makes it more believable that Cammie is onboard with murder because she’s not really into Todd as much as she just needs him to reach “married” status.
Unfortunately, once Salinger and Masha are corpses, the movie kind of stalls. The idea that Salinger called a ton of people in order to have a party makes some sense, but even Salinger not telling Todd and Cammie or making any effort towards “throwing” the party seems like a stretch. Also, they didn’t do a great job of working the dead couple back in as hallucinations. While the makeup looks pretty good and the performances are solid, they don’t quite fit well into the plot. I will admit that Labine and Åkerman talking about honoring Dov’s Jewish heritage is hilariously dark.
The end of the movie really kind of spirals. The introduction of Todd’s parents is supposed to add another dysfunctional relationship that kind of highlights how messed up Todd and Cammie are, but it just isn’t that amusing. It’s just two people who apparently really don’t like each other. Even the culmination of the film, where Todd and Cammie chase each other, which should be very amusing, just doesn’t end up being quite funny enough.
Overall, it’s an okay movie, just feels like they wasted a bit of potential.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.