March 31st, 2023
STARRING: DIANNA AGRON, THOMAS HADEN CHURCH
DIRECTED BY: ALEX LEHMANN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Over the past 10-years the divides and rifts caused between family members have been insurmountable. Disagreements of politics and beliefs can tear us apart. What director Alex Lehmann asks, in his new film Acidman, is how do we coexist when we might not see eye to eye? The answer is somewhere within the details, but what is needed is time, and that’s what Lehmann gives us. Acidman is a two-hander, about a daughter reconnecting with her father and she finds out that he has a bit of an obsession with believing in UFOs. There is a gentle grace and honesty with Acidman that makes it a heartwarming slice of American cinema, no matter what you believe in.
We see Maggie (Dianna Agron) driving up a gravel road in the Oregon wilderness. She arrives upon a house with a muddy landscape, a deck with clutter on it, and the word ACIDMAN spray painted across the side. Inside is her father Lloyd (Thomas Haden Church), a man who has found his own sense of peace, with his dog, and living at his own pace. What has happened in the past has obviously created a divide up to this point but that’s not what this meeting is about. The story is picking up the pieces and although there has been a troubled history, Maggie is trying to find a way to get back to having a relationship with her father. He doesn’t make it easy though, as he brings her out to a ridge, and explains to her how he’s been communicating with aliens…or something. Maybe it’s just flashing lights, either way, this is who he is now.
To those that have watched the previous films of Alex Lehmann, there will be little surprise here, as his stories often involve two characters. His previous film, Meet Cute, was a Groundhog Day style relationship comedy, featuring Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco falling in love over and over again. Before that it was Paddleton, a story of two friends (Ray Romano & Mark Duplass) coming to terms with one friend’s terminal cancer diagnosis. There is often a wedge, a conflict that can cause a relationship to fracture, and Lehmann analyzes human interaction with great precision. Acidman is right in line with the others, placing a finger on how we cope with different views within the family.
What elevates the material from Lehmann and co-writer Chris Dowling is the authentic performances from Agron and Haden Church. The latter specifically shows he’s an actor we must demand more from, as his performance is delicately layered with stubborn personality, gentle humor, and an emotional heart. The conversations shift from the hood of a pickup truck, to inside the unkempt home, and a brisk walk alongside a river. Each setting is only elevated by the charismatic performances. It takes two to tango in an Alex Lehmann film and he receives two of his best performances yet in Acidman.
Any relative complaints can only arrive from the fact that Acidman is not considered a sexy kind of film but it’s much too pure to dismiss. There’s more to discuss with its outlook on families being divided among views but it never demonizes a character for what they believe in. It allows for space to breathe, letting us get to know each person, while revealing the harsh reality that there are many families living with someone that believes the next conspiracy theory. It’s something we all have to wrestle with and Alex Lehmann faces this directly in another winner in Acidman.
ACIDMAN IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS AND VOD ON FRIDAY MARCH 31ST, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady