|Review by Caitlyn Thompson|
People Places Things is a hopelessly awkward, yet charming story about a newly single father overcoming a broken heart.
It’s not mesmerizing or original, and can’t seem to decide which storylines to focus on, but it manages to remain cute and successful enough if you’re in the mood for a light evening.
The movie opens during the fifth birthday party of Will Henry’s (Jemaine Clement) twin daughters.
The character is comical and sweet, though a bit melancholy, as he meanders through his home to find the girls’ mother, his long-time girlfriend, Charlie (Stephanie Allynne). It’s no surprise when he finds her in bed with another man.
The tale continues one year later.
Will hosts a tiny birthday dinner in his tiny apartment and presents his daughters’ gifts, hand-made kites, with a combination of pride and sadness. Clement does a wonderful job appearing small, emotionally, and physically, despite his large stature.
We follow the shy character as he realizes he wants to snap out of his unenthusiastic, self-pitying routine.
The first step is spending more time with his daughters.
The second is to start dating (and he only goes on one).
The movie is divided here and had the director (James C. Strouse) chosen one of those storylines to focus on, maybe the production would have felt more fluid. Instead, each plotline is underdeveloped and takes a turn towards silly versus heartfelt and resolute.
Will’s ex, Charlie, is controlling, strident and quite unlikable.
Her credence is diminished within the first two minutes of her appearing onscreen during an unnecessary nudity gag. So her professions of being such a great mom are overall unrealistic. And on top of that her spastic mannerisms are jarring to the otherwise calm nature of the film.
Ultimately, seeking this character’s permission for increased custody didn’t sit well with me.
In contrast to Charlie’s flimsy instability, is Diane (Regina Hall), the one-time-bad-date
Will is set up on through his student, Cat (Jessica Williams), whose presence seems to solely be for comedic value, yet she doesn’t have much screen time. This trio is really odd. Diane’s forthright demeanor goes from bitchy to doe-eyed in a matter of moments, and Cat’s supposed admiration for Will as her mentor is forced. He is her graphic novel instructor. Of course he is illustrating his entire life into a book of his own. This profession otherwise is just a means for him to cope and get through his attachment to his ex.
Truly, there isn’t really chemistry with any of characters throughout People Places Things.
Clement delivers his lines in his typical dry fashion, naturally. But I could hear the rest of the cast reading the script far too clearly. This flaw made the film feel like a series of skits at times.
Funny people are present, but they aren’t up to Clement’s caliber and their behaviors feel overworked or fall completely flat.
Clement is exception because his dry, self-deprecating humor is so familiar (if you’re a Flight of the Concords fan). Unfortunately though, lots of the funny jokes are in the trailer.
All that being said, if you enjoy Jemaine Clement, you’ll likely be satisfied with the movie. It has beautiful camera work, fun yet calming at the same time, which is made all the more successful alongside the child-like score, all of which produces a great atmosphere reflecting the main character’s heartbreak and desire to move forward.