Directed by: Dennis Lee
Starring: Toni Collette, Michael Sheen, Jason Spevack, Samantha Weinstein
Spevack is a kid with the second highest ever recorded IQ who tracks down Sheen, his sperm donor father.Wes Anderson has a lot to answer for. His has become the go to style for American indie film-makers, possibly because it's such a simple formula and so easily imitated. Plot wise you just need a bunch of dysfunctional characters, usually related, who come together at the end in acceptance of each other. Visually anyone with a basic understanding of the rule of thirds can make their movie look like an Anderson piece, simply frame all your characters dead center so it appears they're looking straight at the audience. Top it off with a hip folky soundtrack and you've got yourself an indie smash.
Lee has followed this recipe down to the most minute ingredients. Sheen's depressed professor who is estranged from his daughter is probably the most Anderson character not written by himself (or Noah Baumbach). There isn't one character in this who feels real, not necessarily a bad thing, but it would help if they were at least likable. I suspect Lee thinks they all just need a hug, but in my opinion a slap would do more good.
There's no denying the photography isn't impressive but it's just too damn rigid, every frame feeling overly composed. Don't get me wrong, I'll take this over shaky cam anyday but truly great cinematography lives somewhere in between, a natural beauty unlike the mechanical framing of Anderson and his clones.
Lee does seem to have talent as a director but as a writer he needs to find his own voice and stop imitating a film-maker who himself has little to contribute.