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I'm using my jerk powers on you...

I'm using my jerk powers on you...


Adrienne Shelly, Martin Donovan

Maria: Can you stop watching TV for a minute?
Matthew: No.
Maria: Why?
Matthew: Because, I had a bad day at work.  I had to subvert my principles and kow-tow to an idiot.  Television makes these daily sacrifices possible.  Deadens the inner core of my being.

Maria (Shelly) is a 17 year old girl who has just been kicked out of school and has learned that she’s pregnant.  During an argument with her father, she slaps him and storms out.  Shortly after, he keels over dead.  Maria’s mother blames her and wants her out of the house.  While wandering about, she meets Matthew (Donovan), a troubled, violent man who still lives with his abusive father.  The two form an odd bond, but neither Maria’s mom or Matthew’s father approve of their relationship.

This is an odd, dark indie comedy with good performances from the leads and average performances from just about everybody else.  The writing is witty at times, but never sounds authentic.  Obviously it’s not meant to sound authentic, as the characters often speak in a quick, monotone style which I assume is meant to add to the comedic affect.  At times, it does, but at other times it’s just distracting.

The real problem here is that none of the characters or story lines really seem to go anywhere.  There isn’t much growth or change in anybody.  It seems like after the events of the movie unfold, we’re left with basically the same people and the same situations that we started with.  I guess Maria’s character has grown up a little bit, but that comes across more in Shelly’s performance than it does in the writing.

Martin Donovan’s character is too much of a jerk to have any sympathy for, and I also didn’t really buy him as this tough, threatening bully that everybody was afraid of.  Maria’s mother is impossibly cruel and bizarre, even trying to get Matthew more interested in her older daughter, Peg, by bragging about her abilities in bed.

Maybe I just missed the whole point to the movie because, even though it was quite amusing at times, it just felt like a meandering series of scenes that didn’t fit together or amount to any real story.  The late Adrienne Shelly is very watchable and likable, but she’s just not enough to carry the film by herself.

TV is evil…people are jerks…

10 – .8 for distracting style of dialogue delivery – 1.3 for general unpleasantness of the characters – 2 for a meandering story that doesn’t really go any place = 5.9