8/30/2017

Review: Lake Bell's 'I Do...Until I Don't' Isn't Worthy Of Commitment


It gets said a lot any time Lake Bell has something new she's working on, but her directorial debut, the voice actor comedy In A World, really was a brilliant piece of work. The reason it keeps getting brought up is because her directing career should've taken off afterwards, but instead has idled with a four-year gap between projects. That long wait is only made worse by her sophomore effort being the brutally unfunny, disappointing by every measure I Do...Until I Don't.


The title should tell you exactly what kind of movie this one is. It's one of those familiar-in-a-bad-way marital comedies where unhappy couples share their unhappy lives though a documentary filmmaker. That the premise is unambitious isn't the issue really, it's that Bell, who once again penned the script, does nothing remotely interesting with it. Every character, every relationship, every absurd situation these couples stumble into could've been plucked from a throwaway bin of discarded TV sitcoms. This is not a good movie.


Bell and Ed Helms play super-neurotic couple Alice and Noah, whose business is failing just as they are struggling to get pregnant. The other couples in the mix are played by Paul Reiser and Mary Steenburgen as a toxic pair in a loveless marriage; then Amber Heard and Wyatt Cenac as your archetypal happy hippie couple in an open marriage. They're all talked into starring in a documentary by stuck-up director Vivian (Dolly Wells), whose single goal is to destroy the very idea of marriage. That better be some documentary! Everything about Vivian is the worst caricature of a filmmaker paraded through too many movies to count at this point.


Various storylines are introduced that are then quickly dropped and never heard from again, which is wild for a movie with so little going on and so little to say. While the other couples are getting paid for their time in the film, Alice, who is one of Vivian's biggest fans, signed on for free but she's scared to let Noah know. So she takes up giving handjobs at the local massage parlor, run by two lazily-imagined prostitutes, to earn some extra cash. Nervous, boring, suburban wife giving handjobs to strangers? You can imagine how badly it goes and how humorless it is, which is why that particular B-plot doesn't stick around for long.


I wouldn't say that Bell is particularly gifted as a director, even In A World could have been successfully helmed by another. It was her funny and heartfelt screenplay which won us over, having shown her love for the business and the colorful figures within it. There's nothing about I Do...Until I Don't that makes me think Bell cares about these characters, the institution of marriage, or much of anything. It is bland, flavorless, ad wastes talented actors in dead-end roles. You might get a chuckle out of Cenec and Heard's aimless flowerchildren routine (he draws Jewish bunny rabbits), but it won't last long. I Do...Until I Don't isn't worthy of a long-term relationship or a brief fling; it's a home wrecker of a comedy best to be avoided.

Rating: 1 out of 5