Movie Review: “The Intervention”

Melanie Lynskey, Jason Ritter, Cobie Smulders, Natasha Lyonne, Alia Shawkat, Clea DuVall, Vincent Piazza, Ben Schwartz
Clea DuVall

With “The Intervention,” Clea DuVall leaves a striking impression with her feature-length directorial debut. The actress, who starred in the far too short-lived HBO series “Carnivale,” has written and directed an observant, funny and sometimes moving relationship film. Its similarities to famous old-friends-getting-together-for-the-weekend movies are apparent, but since DuVall’s story is driven more by honesty than conventions, its familiar qualities are not a problem.

Putting together an intervention often comes from the right place. And as misguided as Annie’s (Melanie Lynskey) idea of a marriage intervention may be, her heart is in the right place. Annie and some other longtime pals are tired of seeing two of their closest friends, Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza), remain stuck in a seemingly loveless marriage. They’re not the only couple on this getaway having problems, though. In an effort to try to resolve Ruby and Pete’s issues, Sarah (Natasha Lyonne) and Jessi (Clea DuVall), Jack (Ben Schwartz) and Lola (Alia Shawkat), and Annie and Matt (Jason Ritter) end up confronting their own relationship problems.

All of these conflicts unfold naturally, and that naturalism is inherent in DuVall’s thoughtful script. As the story progresses, the characters slowly reveal themselves to be more than what they initially appeared to be. Every single one of them, including a character that easily could’ve been reduced to a one-note caricature (Lola), is so well-drawn in DuVall’s script – each with their own problems, fears and motivations. These are fully-realized characters, and rarely does a simple conversation or confrontation ring false in “The Intervention,” except for maybe one of its broader scenes.

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Movie Review: “Delivery Man”

Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, Jack Reynor, Britt Robertson
Ken Scott

It’s easy to see why Touchstone wanted to make “Delivery Man.” It has a ton of heart, and it honors the bonds and the importance of family. The catch is that it is an indie script through and through – though a flawed one at that – and the big-budget touches they add to it, namely Vince Vaughn doing that ‘look Ma no hands’ thing that he does, do not serve the material. Despite the outrageousness of the plot, it’s an intimate movie. A smaller scale would have worked wonders, but only to a point.

David Wozniak (Vaughn) is a terminable screw-up. He delivers meat for the butcher shop his father runs, and he is always late, always racking up parking tickets, and completely unreliable. (Also, he owes a loan shark $80,000, as if he weren’t already in enough trouble.) In the span of 24 hours, he discovers that his policewoman girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) is pregnant, and that as a result of nearly 700 donations to a sperm bank when he was in his 20s, he is the father of 533 children. One hundred forty-two of these children want to meet him, and have filed a class action suit against the sperm bank to reveal his identity (he signed all of the documents under the name Starbuck). His lawyer friend Brett (Chris Pratt) takes the case, and gives David an envelope containing profiles of the 142 plaintiffs. Against Brett’s advice, David visits some of his kids anonymously, and tries to help them any way he can. When he sees the good fortune that his kindness provides, David’s life has purpose for the first time, but remaining anonymous quickly proves to be difficult.

Don’t let the trailers fool you: this is not some broad, wacky comedy, even if it’s based on a premise involving a sperm bank. David is essentially coming face to face with people who possess exaggerated amounts of his best and worst qualities (one’s a professional basketball player, one’s a junkie), and learning a hell of a lot about himself in the process. There are moments of levity here and there, but this is much more of a drama than it is a comedy, and it should be. To make too many jokes about this premise would be missing the point.

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