THE ARGUMENT (2020)

September 3, 2020

 Greetings again from the darkness. Couples argue. Some more often and more boisterous than others. Things get ugly when friends and other outsiders are drawn into the arguments, which is exactly what we witness (in exaggerated form) with this film from director Robert Schwartzman and writer Zac Stanford (THE CHUMSCRUBBER, 2005). Schwartzman is also a musician and composer, and is the son of ROCKY actress Talia Shire, and the younger brother of actor Jason Schwartzman (MOONRISE KINGDOM, 2012).

Lisa (Emma Bell, A QUIET PASSION, 2016) has just finished her first acting gig (other than a cameo in her husband’s film) in a stage production of Mozart. Her husband Jack (Dan Fogler, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM) is simultaneously happy for her and insecure. His insecurity stems from his lack of success as a writer, and his suspicion, bordering on jealousy, of Lisa and her co-star Paul (Tyler James Williams, “Everybody Hates Chris”). The film picks up at the intimate after-party at Lisa and Jack’s home. It’s here where we meet Paul and his friend Trina (Cleopatra Coleman, “The Last Man on Earth”), and married couple Brett (Danny Pudi, “Community”) and Sarah (Maggie Q, “Nikita”). Brett is Jack’s literary agent, and he’s about as successful as an agent as Jack is as a writer. Sarah is an Entertainment Lawyer, who is as bored with the party as she was with Lisa’s play … she just wants to go home and sleep.

The party ends abruptly when Jack and Lisa get into a fierce argument. Alone in the house, neither accepts the blame, so of course, it escalates. The unconventional solution reached is to recreate the sequence of events with the same people saying and doing the same things they said and did that first night. Then they do it again. And again. A montage of do-overs causes us to lose track of just how many times these poor people re-live a forgettable and unpleasant evening.

A tonal shift occurs when Jack “casts” the party with actors, while still inviting the same friends to watch. Rather than exaggerated relationship issues, we get an exaggerated look at actors finding their characters … characters who happen to be sitting in the same room! This jolt of fresh faces transforms the film from quirky to slapstick, and it’s quite likely you’ll enjoy one segment more than the others. The “new” actors bring their own comedic style to the roles: an amped up Mark Ryder (“Borgia”) as Jack, actor-within-an-actor Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (“Misfits”) as Paul, a subdued Karan Brar (DIARY OF A WIMPY KID) as Brett, a willing Charlotte McKinney (FANTASY ISLAND) as Lisa, and Marielle Scott (LADY BIRD) as Trina.

The do-overs are a creative approach in attempting to solve the argument, but this movie is at its best, not in deep psychological analysis of relationships, but rather in the simple comedy elements on display. Relax and take it for what it is … a way to laugh at the problems of others without feeling an ounce of guilt. Just please don’t throw the pie.

In theatres and On Demand September 4, 2020

watch the trailer: