Faced with the absurd competitiveness surrounding his son's youth league baseball team, Max Morris, a famous comedian, decides to get to know the colorful parents and coaches of the team ...
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Taylor John Smith,
Faced with the absurd competitiveness surrounding his son's youth league baseball team, Max Morris, a famous comedian, decides to get to know the colorful parents and coaches of the team better in an attempt to find the inspiration for his next movie.Written by
The imaginary conversations with Max (Jeff Garlin) and a young version of his dad (Timothy Olyphant) were inspired by Garlin's own father, who passed away shortly before the film was made. Garlin said he wanted to imagine what it would be like to talk to his dad about how kids' sports were in the past. See more »
Garlin's personal ode to a world he seems to know way too much about
Jeff Garlin's film directorial debut I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With (the only reason I say "film" is because he directed John Waters' special This Filthy World in 2006) is a comedy gem I can't help but watch every time I catch it on TV, regardless of what point it is at. There's something about that film, be it the naturalistic dialog, the spry, offbeat relationship Garlin and Sarah Silverman manage to create and withstand for eighty minutes, or the way scenes start and end and pick up the awkwardness of daily life, that keeps me coming back.
Garlin's sophomore film effort, Dealin' With Idiots, will have me doing the same. This is an outrageously funny, often heartbreakingly realistic look at the baffling and lame-brained obsession many parents have with their child's performance in little league baseball. Garlin plays Max Morris, a standup comedian whose kid is enrolled in the local little league team coached by Coach Jim (J.B. Smoove, one of the funniest men in film). Max is dumbfounded by the great lengths parents go to show support and love for their children, but is even more hateful towards how seriously many of them take the game.
When the idea of making a film centered around the eccentricities of the game goes through his head, he winds up staging meetups and interviews with the parents there in order to get acquainted with their lives. Those involve the well-meaning but oppressive man (Richard Kind), his goody two-shoes wife (Jami Gertz), a chic lesbian couple (Gina Gershon and Kerri Kenney-Silver), a rich-guy wannabe (Fred Willard), and several others.
Max's reality is often interrupted (usually during a little league game) by his father (Timothy Olymphant), who transports him to a sharper, darkly-colored version of his current setting to give Max parenting advice or encouragement in his life. While this may seem abrupt, it does provide a more personal, sentimental side to the character at the center of this madness.
Garlin has always been one to assemble a fine cast of people, many of whom are amateurs or lesser known in the field of film. Here, Garlin recruits some of the strongest people I've seen in an indie film in quite sometime. Just the inclusion of the wonderful actresses Jami Gertz and Kerri Kenney-Silver make this feel like a meager but satisfying reunion of the underrated sitcom Still Standing. Not to mention, Bob Odenkirk and J.B. Smoove (who co-starred with Garlin on the work of television brilliance that is Curb Your Enthusiasm) do some great work as the coaches of the little league games, Richard Kind and Fred Willard are always fun to watch, and even faces like Pat Finn and Natasha Leggero turn up to evoke some surprising comedy when necessary.
Not only does Garlin infuse Dealin' With Idiots' promise with great character actors, but he makes fine use of them thanks to a nicely-compiled script (co-written by Peter Murrieta). Perhaps it's from using his improving skills on Curb Your Enthusiasm with close-friend and co-star Larry David and Second City, but Garlin smoothly recreates the same kind of conversational beauty and realism those two works have and marvelously concocts a script that is simultaneously human and exploratory of different mindsets. Often I think this is how the cast would interact with each other when the cameras weren't rolling. The film hesitates not to explore the different lifestyles of the characters here, which is a huge step in the right direction for this kind of a film, being as tricky as that is. Thrown in some tremendous suburban cinematography and hilariously unpredictable scenes and you have another film I'll delay my schedule for to watch again.
The thought of making a comedy centered around little league is one that sets itself up for many, many a joke to be made and this film does justice to its world. Garlin captures this obscure sector of suburban passtime with a sense of personal belonging and unpretentious craft that makes Dealin' With Idiots much more competent on the level of independent comedy. Garlin feels like he was either once a part of this world or is at least wholly familiar with it, judging by the realistic way he writes all the characters and the events that unfold on the diamond. It's almost as baffling how well this film works as a whole as it is watching the people who are hellbent on showing their involvement for something as silly and superfluous as little league baseball.
Starring: Jeff Garlin, Jami Gertz, Richard Kind, Fred Willard, Timothy Olyphant, Bob Odenkirk, J.B. Smoove, Pat Finn, Gina Gershon, Kerri Kenney-Silver, and Natasha Leggero. Directed by: Jeff Garlin.
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