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Charlie Rankin, recently released from prison, seeks vengeance for his jail-house mentor William "The Buddha" Pettigrew. Along the way, he meets the ethereal, yet streetwise, Florence Jane. They embark on a unlikely road trip, careening towards an unlikely redemption and uncertain resolution.
A strait-laced pharmacist's uneventful life spirals out of control when he starts an affair with a trophy-wife customer who takes him on a joyride involving sex, drugs and possibly murder. Written by
Sam Rockwell has done some really great work. Not here, but he has, trust me. Ditto Michelle Monaghan, Olivia Wilde and Ray Liotta. And, let me be clear when I tell you that they try very hard to make this a nice little comedy. Sadly, all their hard work is pretty much wasted, and combined with the unnecessary Jane Fonda Narration I found Better Living Through Chemistry to be one of those movies you might watch some rainy, boring night - one of those nights when this is the only possible choice.
Rotten weather tonight? Seen every episode of Two Broke Girls at least twice? Need to save your gray matter for tomorrow's presentation? Great! This is a movie for you.
I think that the below average production really detracts from the film. There is something 'funky' about the sound and the filming is just a little bit off, like it was filmed half digital/half Eastman Kodak. No need for me to be more specific, you will notice. Trust me, again.
Another negative is knowing how much you have enjoyed the leads in the past. Consider Rockwell in Moon, or Monaghan in True Detective, two very strong performances. Rockwell in this movie comes off more like the new Rick Moranis (Honey, I drugged the kids) and I don't recall ever seeing Michelle so tired around the edges. I mentioned that they work hard, right?
This is not some comedic breakthrough, by the way. I do believe it has all been done before, thematically.
Though this is a film about a pharmacist, there is nothing new in this comedy as far as concepts or gags. You have seen it all before. The script isn't at all fresh, a real problem for me. It even has the oddball kid, you know the one that is going his own way or words to that effect. The core concepts that are supposed to work and make us laugh just don't work often enough.
I don't know if this ever made it to the theaters, or went straight to video. If it was in general release it is impossible for me to imagine it generating the sort of buzz to attract many folks to the old movie house.
However, it is watchable. Sound odd? Not really, just don't expect much. And, don't worry about pausing when you need a quick trip to the john, you won't miss much and no new techniques will be introduced.
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