By Jared Huizenga – Contributing Writer
When it comes to movies about complicated relationships and the efforts people will go to fix them, we’ve pretty much seen it all.
In 1986 we saw a couple take “Separate Vacations;” we’ve seen a veterinarian make an amnesiac stranger fall in love with him every day (“50 First Dates”); and we’ve even witnessed a couple so desperate to forget one another that they’ve deliberately caused permanent brain damage (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”).
One thing I can’t recall ever seeing, however, is therapeutic songwriting as is the case in “Band Aid.” So I couldn’t not see it.
In “Band Aid,” Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) are a married couple whose friends are kind of leaving them in the dust. While their friends are finding success in their careers and families, the childless couple excels at only two things – fighting and smoking an excessive amount of marijuana.
While stoned (and in the midst of an argument) at a friends’ child’s birthday party, they start “jamming” with some toddlers on toy instruments. Not in the right state of mind to care about what others think, they start singing about the problems in their relationship.
The surprisingly cathartic endeavor makes them decide to dust off Ben’s old instruments and start a band … that plays only songs that are little more than fights put to music. Will it be enough to help them save their marriage?
First things first: “Band Aid” is one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year. It’s not the “laugh until your sides hurt” kind of funny, but if you are a fan of snarky, quirky, low-key humor, this should be right up your alley. Plus, the songs they perform are pretty hilarious.
Second, Lister-Jones and Pally make quite the on-screen pair. Their chemistry feels real, their pain feels real, their joy seems real. They command your attention every time they’re on screen together, which is a fair amount of the time.
Even in their brief individual moments they shine. So much so that cameos from easily-recognizable actors like Colin Hanks, Jesse Williams, Jamie Chung, Brooklyn Decker and Hannah Simone, just kind of blend into the background. Even Fred Armisen, who stars as the couple’s neighbor and drummer, is overshadowed in the kind of quirky spot in which you’d expect him to be the standout. That’s not a slight to any of those performances, just that the leads were so good, that the supporting cast was really just that.
Lister-Jones is the true mastermind behind the project, serving as not only the star, but the writer, director, and producer, too. While “Band Aid” isn’t her feature screenwriting debut, it does serve as her directorial debut, and she knocked it out of the park. She adeptly focuses the strengths of the film – its two main characters and its quirky story.
★★★★ of ★★★★★
Jared Huizenga is a freelance movie critic. Follow his work at www.facebook.com/JaredMovies.