MOVIE: ABOUT ALEX
STARRING: NATE PARKER; AUBREY PLAZA; JASON RITTER; MAGGIE GRACE; MAX GREENFIELD; MAX MINGHELLA; JANE LEVY
DIRECTED BY: JESSE ZWICK
A MOVIE GUY’S RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Fans of film in the 20-30 year age group float in obscurity. If you are not a fanboy, when do you get a film at the theater to see? About Alex may not be the greatest answer to that question, but it is a film on the right path. In Director Jesse Zwick’s Directorial debut, he has gathered a collection of the top “now” actors in television and movies today, for a charming drama piece. Seven people gather at a summer home in Long Island after Alex (Jason Ritter, son to the late John Ritter) attempts suicide in a cry for help and his close friends drop what they’re doing and show up for support.
Each character is uniquely defined, as the film opens with the suicide attempt and a montage of each friend receiving the shocking news, we start to see the group of friends take form. Ben (Nate Parker) is the closest friend of Alex’s, he has a bad case of writers block, and as a writer this is not such a good thing to experience. He carries the guilt of missing the last six calls from Alex, but he is supported by the beautiful Siri (Maggie Grace; Taken & Taken 2). She is reminded that her name turned into a global Apple product joke, and she may be pregnant with Ben’s child.
We are then introduced to Sarah, played by the Parks and Recreations always disinterested Aubrey Plaza. She is devastated by the news of Alex’s suicide attempt. She takes a caretakers approach to the situation, always looking to help, make dinner, and constantly monitor Alex. The friend who has the “tough love” approach is the brazen and cocky Josh (Max Greenfield- The New Girl), who feels Alex’s cry for help is desperate and selfish. Although the two do not see eye to eye on Alex’s plight, they do share a little love-hate for each other. A few days in a cottage leads to the two of them making love.
The meat of the film lies in the real life situational dialogue and fully developed characters. The dramatic sets are comparable to plays such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf or last year’s Tony winning play turned film August: Osage County. Only About Alex is the Friends version, not the alcoholic riddled family dysfunctional August: Osage.
The final piece to the puzzle of friends is the always preppy and professional Isaac (Max Minghella), who used to have a relationship with Sarah, which makes things pretty interesting considering Isaac brought his new scene stealing girlfriend Kate (Jane Levy; Evil Dead (2013)) along. Many of the friends think her presence is unnecessary, but the actress injects a much needed boost of needed awkwardness to one uncomfortable collection of situations.
This is the first feature film from Director Jesse Zwick, who is the son of Academy Award winning Director Edward Zwick (Shakespeare in Love; Glory). The younger Zwick penned the script for the film and as a first written and Directed attempt, it is promising. Set in a new age style of The Big Chill, a type of genre film that has had more than its fare share of attempts, Jesse Zwick seems to have a knack for writing realistic dialogue and writing about real life things that he would know about.
Where the movie falters is in its pace. There is not enough interesting conflicts between characters to keep the 96 minute film from feeling like a 120 minute film. As the the story moves from the kitchen, to the bedrooms, to the porch; it can pull you away from the conversations that interest the viewer most.
About Alex is a film in a genre that has been done before, but shows promise from all parties involved. When the careers of Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield, and Director Jesse Zwick are at their peak in years to come, we will be reminded about how at one point in the distant past, they did a nice believable film that dealt with real life problems.
2 ½ Stars
Written By: Leo Brady