Wow, a lot of actors are jumping onto the directing band wagon lately, aren’t they? Well, someone add Clea DuVall to the list because she’s the captain of this vessel.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what to make of this movie. It looks like it’s going to be a dramedy about a married couple that are having problems at home and now their friends are inviting them out to the middle of nowhere to intervene and help them, while also airing out their own dirty laundry. I was definitely interested, but I had some fears that the story would be a little unfocused. But maybe that’s what this story is: the multiple problems couples of all kinds can have and how they overcome it one way or another.
Let’s look at the extensive cast. DuVall is co-staring, additionally is also the film’s writer. Now, I’ve been a fan of DuVall for a long time. THE FACULTY was the first film that I saw her in, and I really liked her. Damn talented, and damn beautiful. Just look at those eyes. Those things can cut metal. GIRL, INTERRUPTED right on down to her role in the popular TV show HEROES. I wish I’d seen more of her work over the years, but this was well before I got into movies like I am now. But I’m here now and really excited to see what she’s got cooked up for us. Also, we’re presented with Cobie Smulders. What can you say? She’s a gem. I know most people know her from the smash hit TV show HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, but I’m a nerd and know her from her superhero films THE AVENGERS (2012), CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, and AGE OF ULTRON (2015). She’s done other stuff, I know, but nerdy shit trumps all. But I’m very interested excited to see her in this movie. And keep an eye out for her in the upcoming Jack Reacher sequel, NEVER GO BACK later this year. Others include Melanie Lynskey (UP IN THE AIR , THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER , and TV show TWO AND A HALF MEN), Natasha Lyonne (HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS , the American Pie movies, and TV show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK), Ben Schwartz (TV shows BOJACK HORSEMAN, HOUSE OF LIES, and PARKS AND REC), and more.
I’m going in with above-indifferent expectations on this on the whole. I’m curious to see DuVall as a director and writer, and the rest of the cast looks pretty promising, but that trailer was not doing the movie any favors, so we’ll see. This is my honest opinion of THE INTERVENTION.
Peter (Vincent Piazza) and Ruby (Cobie Smulders) have been having marital problems for years. Their closest friends, spearheaded by the ever doting Annie, stage a kind of intervention to express their feelings about their unhappy marriage. But as their weekend getaway progresses, Peter and Ruby may not be the only ones that have relationship problems.
Now this was a good movie. Not great, but likable in so many ways.
This ensemble cast is great. Everyone’s got wonderful chemistry together. As I understand it, DuVall, Lyonne, and Lynskey actually worked on a movie together before: BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER (1999), and remained friends ever since. It shows because they have wonderful chemistry and really does feel like a bunch of friends that have known each other for a long time hanging out. But it’s not even just them. The rest of cast works very well with each other, making particularly hard to point out any standout performances, as everyone’s taken the spotlight at least once in the film.
One of my favorite performances is Schwartz. I admit, I’m not overly familiar with his work. I’ve only seen him in PARKS & REC. So you can imagine my shock that he’s actually playing a straight character instead of an over-the-top nutball. That was his identity for me, and I’m sitting there the entire time, “Why haven’t you come up with a get-rich-quick scheme yet?!” And then I had to remember, “Oh, yeah… not PARKS & REC…” Still, like all comedians and funny-people, he makes the transition from goofy cartoon man to a real person seamlessly. Not only that, he has probably one of the more heartbreaking scenes in the entire movie. Seriously, bring a change of clothes because your eyes will piss tears.
I think for me, the most comedic golden moment was after the intervention kind of happens and everyone else’s dirty laundry gets exposed, among them being when Lola (Alia Shawkat) kissed Jessie (Clea DuVall) and Peter walked in on it, which gets her lover Sarah (Natasha Lyonne) fuming, naturally. They get into a fight, resulting in a tackle into the nearby lake. Then they’re shown running back into the house and fighting over who’s going to take a shower… while their clothes are still on, and as the shower is running. Jessie says something like, “Oh what, do you want to make out with Jack?!” Actually, I don’t remember who, but I’m pretty sure it was Jack, either way, this gives Sarah ideas. Then they’re racing outside, Sarah making a beeline for Jack and Jessie’s right behind her going, “I wasn’t being serious!” and Sarah plants one right there on Jack. In retaliation, Jessie practically jumps Lola, kissing her… then Sarah kisses Lola, then Jessie kisses Jack, this whole scene quickly became the most hilarious what-the-fuck, and I loved every solitary second of it.
But for all the good things this movie did, and for all the good characters that were made, there were two that spoiled the film for me: Annie and Peter.
Let’s talk about Annie first, as she’s the lesser of the two evils here. Man, I could not stand this chick, or really, how anyone handled her. She is a constant nervous wreck and it’s not funny to watch. Her character also doesn’t make a lick of sense. She’s the mastermind behind this entire weekend getaway and she panics when it’s time to “intervene,” constantly drinking to loosen up, even though it doesn’t work. She’s not taking any responsibility for what she’s orchestrated, constantly relying on other people to help her get to the point. And once shit does hit the fan and everyone’s in their own room just processing, she can’t simply let anyone be alone. She has to go in the room, quiet as a mouse, determined to say something that will comfort, but instead is just awkward and inconsiderate. She has no concept of boundaries and personal space, and that’s not a compelling trait to have in a character that we are supposed to sympathize with as much as everyone else. She’s the least likable character in the movie and it’s painful.
Having said all that, Annie is somewhat redeemed at the end for having the second most heartbreaking scene in the movie. Right after Peter and Ruby announce that they’re going to keep fighting for their marriage, Annie says that the two of them were “supposed” to get divorced and be happy (more on this bullshit later). Some more dialog later, she starts crying, saying the line, “I hope you’re happy being married forever!” There’s context I didn’t write out, obviously, but after storming off and being chased by her fiancé, Matt (Jason Ritter), she tells him that she doesn’t want to marry him after all, after postponing their marriage three times in the past. I swear, this legit broke my heart as she said, “I want to want to marry you. I’ve never wanted to want anything more in my entire life.” The vulnerability that Lynskey radiated made me feel so sorry for the both of them. I don’t know if this saves her character as a whole, but all her terrible character choices did feel like it culminated into something tragic. It culminated pretty weakly, but it did go somewhere with it, I thought.
Now for Peter, and this winds up being the cardinal sin of the movie. He is a fucking asshole. No, I’m not just talking about him being negligent toward his wife, as you can make argument that he’s just working, but… man, you can see the effort that Ruby’s trying to put in to saving their established lives. She puts on this awesome lingerie (taking a moment to pander to my own penis here: holy fuck, Smulders looked incredible), and starts kissing Peter with the intention of sex. Oh god, what happened next got me foaming at the mouth. He kisses her back, rolls her on her side of the bed, as if they really were about to have sex… then as nonchalantly as a mother fucker can get, immediately lets go of her, turns off the light, and goes to bed, with a completely baffled Ruby left with the same expression as the audience, “What the actual fuck?!” First off, this isn’t my problem with Peter – okay, yes it is, but give me minute – if anything, it’s a testament to DuVall’s writing and directing talent. This scene has no dialog. It’s powerful as fuck. If there was an Oscars for best scenes, this would be nominated in my book. This perfectly encapsulates how bad their marriage has gotten; that he’s not even attracted to his ninety percent naked wife anymore. From that moment on, I’m on board with Annie. They need to get divorced so they, and by “they” I mean Ruby because fuck Peter, can be happy. But what happens when the intervention gets underway? Peter’s fucking offended! He storms off, gets drunk all day, comes back later like a dog with his tail between his legs, makes a breakfast buffet the next morning, plans a boat trip with the fakest happiest and peppiest voice you’ve ever seen and heard, and when Ruby isn’t buying this horseshit… he’s absolutely flummoxed. His mind got phenomenally blown like he just discovered who Tyler Durden was, while I’m sitting in my seat going, “NO FUCKING SHIT, DICK CHEESE!!!” The fact that they decide to work it out in the end feels completely unearned. He makes zero effort in winning back Ruby’s faith and this is one time I almost feel like Annie got it right: they should have gotten divorced. Them working it out was utterly unjustified.
Overall, I enjoyed this film. Out of the three actor-becoming-directors movies that I’ve seen this past week, this was probably the best, or at the very least, was my favorite one. The actors were great, due in no small part to DuVall’s solid writing, creating some mostly likable characters, and proves that she’s got some great talent as both a director and writer, with some notable exceptions that she can definitely improve on. I am definitely open to her directing and writing more, so as I pour a shot of Captain Morgan, here’s to a wonderful first outing for miss DuVall. I would love to see this again (in a theatre closer to me than Hollywood’s Arclight), and I do recommend this to all you readers out there.
My honest rating for THE INTERVENTION: 4/5
- YOGA HOSERS
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EAy6-uCb1o
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqmHSR0bFU8
- THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3uULkvZh1w