Results

ResultsPosterI don’t mean to diminish the “mumblecore” movement of films – although I suspect if you dislike the lot of them outright you won’t find much to sway you in “Results” – but while Andrew Bujalski’s latest has been described by critics as a move toward a more traditional rom-com, it’s a perfect example of how mumblecore can drag down a perfectly acceptable genre film.

Mumblecore trades in realism, with characters meandering through life and the films themselves dealing primarily in casual, improvised dialogue and low production values. But just because your movie has realism doesn’t mean it needs to be “realistic.” Bujalski, one of the founders of the movement, proved with his last film “Computer Chess” that you could have a low budget but still be surreal and creative with genre expectations.

“Results” has the same level of “realism” but has a plot that echoes old fashioned screwball comedies. Danny, Trevor and Kat (Kevin Corrigan, Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders) are caught in a love triangle under increasingly convoluted circumstances, but as would be expected of a mumblecore comedy, the madcap humor that would typically arise from such a genre is flat and muted, if not altogether absent. Even as these characters continue to get deep into sex, drama and emotion, it’s amazing how frustratingly little actually seems to happen in “Results.”

Danny is a recently divorced, out of work and out of shape dude who has fallen into obscene wealth and doesn’t have a clue what to do with his money. He wanders into Trevor’s health club Power 4 Life and explains his goal is to be able to take a punch and not be immediately brought down. Trevor puts Kat on the job, who’s testy with her clients and with Trevor, who she previously had an affair with. Danny gets a crush on Kat as soon as she does her first squat, and after a few sessions they make out. By the next meeting he’s gone too far with an elegant dinner, and Kat disappears from both Danny and Trevor’s life.

Part of the problem with “Results” has to do with this flimsy love triangle. “Results” has no clear perspective or main protagonist. Kat initially looks like the character capable of the most growth and in need of love, but she vanishes from the movie midway through to allow for an extended training montage of Trevor and Danny becoming friends. Danny too becomes conspicuously absent later on, with a romance emerging between Kat and Trevor a little more unexpectedly.

As for Trevor, he spouts health clichés about living inside your perfect body and attaining goals physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. All three have goals and aspirations but a lack of a clearly defined vision of what that future looks like or motivation on how to get there. Trevor would make for a good target for humor, particularly gym or fitness culture, but Bujalski doesn’t really care to go there.

I wish he would though. “Results” simply isn’t that funny. It’s certainly not jokey, nor does it make cynical, ironic fun of the gym-rat personality or their philosophies. Mumblecore films are made to be formless and bucking of narrative convention, but at least they have some excitement. The Duplass Brother films are all sharply written and comedic, even broad in their humor. Joe Swanberg’s movies have a strong sense of place and community in his home of Chicago. And Greta Gerwig, Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham have charm and generational appeal.

Bujalski’s film just doesn’t get the same results.

2 stars

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  1. whoa … my favorite “comedy” of last year gets dissed! * funny thing is, i can’t disagree with a lot of what you say, brian, though obviously i’d spin it a different way–not funny? well, it all depends … maybe clever’s a better description, along with the thoroughgoing irony: i mean, “power 4 life”? * he’s nailin’ it even in the name, the mentality that considers substituting a number for a word a kind of “creative” badge, if only in the ad-man sense (plus you don’t have to worry about misspellings, getting egg all over your trimly tailored body suit) * personally i’d opt for “droll” rather than ha-ha funny; i doubt that i laughed out loud either, but the inner smile was there all the way through * and “rom-com”?–yes, i know that’s how others have written about it, an easy handle, helps you to get a grip … except sometimes it gets in the way, and you’re expecting x when y is what the film is actually up to * yes, the characters disappear, and yes they have no “goals,” other than danny, who wants to be able to take a punch without falling down: i mean, all that muh-muh-muhney, and that’s the best he can come up with! * seems pretty “funny” to me, or funny-pathetic, or funny, i dunno, absurd, a larger comment, larger view, of human incongruity than the momentary snicker * the movie’s larded with these kinds of “insights,” the effects of pelf on social class and so on … or maybe “appreciation” is better * and what about the “goals” these people don’t have?: no outcomes they (and by implication “we”) can learn tidy little “lessons” from, about life or personal ethics or whatever * well, it’s MUMBLECORE!–if it had that kind of sensibility, it’d be a tv movie of the week … and, at least from my point of view, automatically NOT FUNNNNNNY! * (talk about moral violation: kat’s relation to danny seems less a matter of familiar rom-com “romance” than a form of prostitution, to keep the gym money coming in–and she’s supposed to be the sympathetic one! * that’s pretty daring if you ask me …)

    anyway, i’m not asking you to laugh, because you didn’t and neither, that much, did i * can’t be helped, that’s how it is, or was * which doesn’t keep RESULTS from being a pretty rich piece of work, certainly better “movie-movie”-wise than almost any of the mumblecore i’ve seen so far (especially in the use of space, juxtaposition of contrasting shots, color sensibility, etc) * i mean, the duplass brothers????–c’mon, gimme a break!

    one caveat: it does fall apart at the very end with that party scene; trying to find a way to end the thing, it looks like, but all we get is overfamiliar cliche * too too bad–but the preceding 90 minutes are still pretty swell!

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