STARRING: ZOE LISTER-JONES; ADAM PALLY; FRED ARMISEN
DIRECTED BY: ZOE LISTER-JONES
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Sure, you could see Wonder Woman this weekend (no, seriously, go see Wonder Woman), but you could also go see a movie with a super woman by the name of Zoe Lister-Jones. The director, writer, and star of her new film Band Aid is a spectacular talent and has made a film that left a beaming smile on my face. It tells an honest narrative, that will relate to anyone who has dealt with a struggling relationship, in a comedy with some surprising dramatic twists along the way. We follow a bickering married couple that decides to create a band to express their problems and resolve arguments. There are plenty of adorable laughs, heartfelt moments, and the emergence of an absolute superstar, making Band Aid one of the pleasant surprises of 2017.
Anna (Lister-Jones) is an Uber driver and struggling author, whose book was rejected by many publishers, while husband Ben (Adam Pally), a freelance graphic designer, can’t seem to find inspiration or people who want to hire him for work. Together, their shortcomings create a lot of tension and fighting over things like dishes in the sink or the way they communicate with one another. A session at their couples therapist is so depressing that the therapist tells them she’s “going on a trip to Canada…forever.” The two of them become lost in their love, constantly wanting to kill one another, while finding time to smoke pot for enlightenment. They attend the birthday party of a friends toddler, which leads to a bright moment of happiness where they play kids instruments that get the kiddies dancing. It’s an ah-ha moment, where they decide to start their own therapeutic band, singing songs about their fights, with their oddball sex-addicted neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen, stealing every scene) playing drums, and falling back in love while they do it.
This is Lister-Jones’ directorial debut, but you wouldn’t know it by this films wit and undeniable charm. The songs the band plays (also co-written by Lister-Jones) are often light, catchy, and funny. You won’t dart to your Spotify account to download the album like you did with 2016’s Sing Street, but it’s all toe-tapping fun, plus the mature script gets everything right about marriage. That starts with the fact that there is a beautiful, often authentic connection between Pally and Lister-Jones. It radiates in the hilariously honest conversations the two have, swearing at one another, crying about having or not having children, changing their ways of irresponsible party behavior, or becoming the successful artists they always dream of being. It is all spot on for today’s 30-something crowd. Lister-Jones is making a film about a married couple and does a fantastic job showing the emotional differences between men and women. Multiple scenes had me nodding my head, feeling the struggles for all parties involved.
Eventually, the band does get some attention, conjuring up ideas for Anna and Ben to finally make a name for themselves. What they find is that the band might be their baby, but it can’t fill a hole that is missing in their lives. Whether it was their sex lives, their career success, or emotional happiness, they begin to see that being in a band is fun, but it can’t change their reality. I feel like anyone can relate to this, because we all search for something, even if it looks like what we have in front of us should be perfect. How awesome, that a movie in 2017 has the honesty to say, “yeah, at the age of 30, that’s when marriages could use some help, some people go to therapy, some don’t get over tragedy, we are humans.”
I hope I am not underselling the comedy aspect and over selling the dramatics. The third act emotional shift is a bit of a confusing tone, but the early onslaught humor is some of the funniest stuff I have seen this year. It all comes together in one honest and beautifully messy portrayal of the way that a marriage can be. I found Band Aid to be a pure joy to watch and the emergence of a true wonder woman in Zoe Lister-Jones, makes me excited to see what she’s going to do next.
Written by: Leo Brady