Friday, April 19, 2024

“LOUSY CARTER”

THE STORY – Labeled as a deadbeat by his ex and a failure by his mother, Lousy Carter seems to be falling apart. When he learns he only has six months to live, one of his students offers him one last chance to live his dream.

THE CAST – David Krumholtz, Olivia Thirlby, Stephen Root, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer & Trieste Kelly Dunn

THE TEAM – Bob Byington (Director/Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 80 Minutes


After seeing David Krumholtz in “Oppenheimer,” audiences were surely ready for the character actor’s “renaissance.” That might be weird to say about someone who has been a consistently working actor in the industry but has yet to be given opportunities worthy of his talents. Krumholtz (who by all means is an underrated talent) has always been a reliable actor throughout his varied television and film career. Procedurals, rom-coms — it doesn’t matter what genre because he can do it all. Then, something clicked after he collaborated with Christopher Nolan in last year’s box office juggernaut — and now Academy Award winner for Best Picture. Krumholtz gave such a tender and impactful performance with relatively little screen time that maybe he has now become a dependable character actor. Now, Krumholtz is front and center of the camera again, albeit in an indie film, but the lead of the film nonetheless. With “Lousy Carter,” writer-director Bob Byington allows Krumholtz to showcase his skills as not only a comedic and dramatic actor but also to give layers to such a deplorable protagonist. While the film may not succeed in achieving most of its aspirations, “Lousy Carter” lets Krumholtz do what he does best.

“Lousy Carter” follows Krumholtz’s Carter — or “Lousy Carter” — an unsavory literary professor. To many, he is self-depreciative, narcissistic, and a subpar academic. He lives a fundamentally stagnant life until he receives a medical diagnosis informing him that he only has six months to live. Carter begins — or, at least, attempts — to live up to his aspirations, even if this leads to a self-destructive way of life. Throughout the film, it’s more than evident that Krumholtz is the glue holding everything together. Even if Carter sometimes feels like a grating mouthpiece to the frustrations of the screenwriter, Krumholtz’s ability to give the character some type of anchoring is quite impressive. Carter is an unlikeable protagonist, but with a performance like this, Krumholtz gives him a somewhat appealing nature to make the character watchable. However, it never gets to a point where it feels like you’d root for this man in any way due to the limitations of what the writing allows the character to go through. But Krumholtz does his best to sway you in his direction. Everyone else in the ensemble is fine, but they’re only used as devices to add more variety to Carter’s characterization. Other characters are primarily there for Carter to have a dialogue with, bouncing off his various pitiful rants and frustrations. Most of the time, this doesn’t do much, as many of these characters feel underdeveloped. The two characters who play the best off Carter are his best friend Herschel (Martin Starr) and ex-girlfriend Candela (Olivia Thirlby). It’s clear to Byington that these are the two relationships he puts the most focus on, leading to the more engaging storylines (especially Carter’s friendship with Herschel). Still, everything else feels like it’s along for the ride.

Overall, “Lousy Carter” feels incomplete, like a loose series of vignettes slapped together in an awkwardly edited fashion. Byington’s commentary comes off as derivative and familiar at times. Without the talented (yet underused) ensemble, “Lousy Carter” would come off as a tad insufferable. It struggles tonally between wanting to be an insightful drama about the dawning of life’s missed opportunities and a dry comedy, almost resembling the work of the Coen Bros. at times. There are moments when it feels like Byington’s vision is realized, but these are few and far between. The direction is adequate, appearing to be put together on the barest of budgets. The story of how Byington found the film’s composer, “Leafcuts,” on Instagram is interesting, but the music is quite distracting when it appears. The score’s implementation often feels random, and it would’ve benefited from not being in the film altogether.

This is all indie filmmaking at its core, and that alone is worth commemorating, even if “Lousy Carter” isn’t entirely sold on what it’s trying to deliver. By the time the film ends, it feels like it’s trying to wrap up a variety of loose ends with an array of characters you’re stuck having to watch even when you don’t care about them. There’s a specific crowd that would very much gravitate towards “Lousy Carter.” Krumholtz’s aurora is felt throughout the entire film and makes for a passable watch. It’s a shame the film around Krumholtz doesn’t reach the heights on which he sets his sights.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - An enjoyable David Krumholtz performance anchors the film and keeps you glued, even when everything isn't really up to par.

THE BAD - The supporting cast feels underutilized in a screenplay that not only feels underdeveloped but too much like a series of vignettes. Its overfamiliar and occasionally repetitive nature makes it feel like a limited experience.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 5/10

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Giovanni Lago
Giovanni Lago
Devoted believer in all things cinema and television. Awards Season obsessive and aspiring filmmaker.

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Latest Reviews

<b>THE GOOD - </b>An enjoyable David Krumholtz performance anchors the film and keeps you glued, even when everything isn't really up to par.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The supporting cast feels underutilized in a screenplay that not only feels underdeveloped but too much like a series of vignettes. Its overfamiliar and occasionally repetitive nature makes it feel like a limited experience.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>5/10<br><br>"LOUSY CARTER"