“5 Reasons” is a new thing I’m doing for Deepest Dream, and I’ll only be employing it for films, music, and games that I really dig. Out in theaters and On Demand today, Joshy is a seriocomic tale of the titular character’s (Thomas Middleditch) weekend getaway with his friends in Ojai, Ca.
The excursion is actually one borne out of necessity, as the home they rented for Joshy’s engagement party is now being utilized for a few days of boozing and debauchery (Joshy’s relationship with his fiancee, played by Alison Brie, ended on a tragic note).
Directed by Jeff Baena (Life After Beth), Joshy may seem like a raucous bachelor romp, but it traverses much deeper terrain. here are the 5 reasons to love Joshy:
- Alex Ross Perry Steals The Show
With all due respect to the talented ensemble that fill Joshy’s world, writer-director Alex Ross Perry (Queen of Earth) is the movie’s number one standout as Adam, a tabletop loving geek with a ton of dry wit to spare. Joshy, who’s as empathetic as they come, is the only one in the crew who truly appreciates Adam’s eccentricities (for example, Adam delivers an epic, hushed rant on the perils of hot tub lounging while the mechanic, played by Jake Johnson, takes it all in).
Adam is the outsider of the group, as his frequent mutterings, unpredictable behavior (he has a misconstrued shoe moment with co-star Aubrey Plaza) and tangential/off-handed comments are frequently ignored by Joshy’s buddies. I loved Perry’s approach to the role, and even if Joshy completely sucked as a movie, Perry would have been the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank goodness, Joshy doesn’t suck.
2. Adam Pally and Jenny Slate Should Star In Their Own Romantic Comedy
Adam Pally is Ari, Joshy’s married buddy and the seemingly most settled of the crew. Ari’s world takes a left turn after meeting Jody (Jenny Slate) at the neighborhood bar. Upon learning they have something in common from their childhood (I’m not going to spoil the reveal!), the duo embark on a “will they or won’t they” dance throughout the weekend.
Pally and Slate have an undeniable chemistry, and the “getting to know you” scenes between the pair are among Joshy’s most tender moments. Of course, the prospect of adultery isn’t a good thing, but by the end of the film don’t be surprised if you’re pulling for both of them.
3. Nick Kroll And Brett Gellman Are A Comedic One-Two Punch
Nick Kroll (The League, Adult Beginners) is Eric, the fun loving, debauchery loving guy of the outfit, and he’s determined to keep Joshy in good spirits throughout the weekend. Whether it’s boozing it up at the bar or even hiring strippers and prostitutes, Eric doesn’t want this party train to stop.
Nick Kroll, as usual, is very funny, but one of the film’s biggest surprises is Brett Gellman’s work as Greg, Eric’s overly intense and highly unpredictable partner-in-crime. Gellman brings a beguilingly dark humor to the proceedings, as we never know if we’re laughing with Greg or are scared of what Greg actually has up his sleeve.
A violently verbal exchange between Eric and Greg at a bar is fever pitched funny, and paired with Alex Ross Perry’s subtle comedic approach, Joshy is filled with enough laughs to keep you interested.
That being said….
4. Joshy Is A Drama At Heart
“Comedy is drama plus time” absolutely applies to Joshy, as writer-director Jeff Baena is much more interested in examining how a bunch of guys struggle to communicate with one another.
Cloaking their mutual affection for each other in excessive drinking or the prospects of hooking up with other women, each guy is dealing with their own issues. Baena thankfully doesn’t shy away from the toughest moments of his narrative, nor does he play these situations for comedic effect.
Rather, he cloaks his movie in humor to help paint a deeper portrait of men who, when all is said is done, need a bit of therapy or real talk to get them through the day.
5. Thomas Middleditch Anchors ‘Joshy’ With Welcome Subtlety
With a bunch of scene stealers around him and a laundry list of cameos (including Plaza, Johnson, Joe Swanberg, Paul Reiser, and Lisa Edelstein), Thomas Middleditch’s performance may be easily ignored. Middleditch, however, does a great job as the narrative’s anchor, and he gives a refreshingly understated performance of a man who’s attempting to find a bit of happiness amidst past tragedies.
Middleditch has the skill set match the comedic heights of his co-stars or even ramp up the drama in various confrontations (including one scene with Reiser and Edelstein playing his ex-girlfriend’s parents), but he and Baena wisely opt for Joshy to have a more reactionary role in the proceedings.
While some may view Joshy as a bit too passive, it’s great to see a protagonist who thinks before he speaks, and it also gives much more power (and resonance) to Joshy’s revelatory moment.
****I was going to praise the heck out of Joshy on this week’s CinemAddicts, but listen below to hear co-host Anderson Cowan and his After Disaster compadres Tyler White and Mike Carano explain the reasons behind this week’s cancellation: