Now out on Blu-ray and DVD, Just Before I Go is Courteney Cox’s feature directorial debut. Though suicide plays a big part in its narrative, Cox and writer David Flebotte understand that even the most inappropriate (and funny) humor surfaces during one’s darkest hour.
Seann William Scott, a scene stealer from such films as “American Pie” and “Role Models,” gives a refreshingly subdued performance as Ted Morgan, an insecure introvert who, after his wife (Elisha Cuthbert) leaves him, decides suicide is his best option.
Before he commits the grave deed, Ted returns to his hometown to exact payback on a rude elementary teacher (Beth Grant) and his childhood bully (Rob Riggle). Temporarily staying with his unpredictable (but well-meaning) sibling Lucky (Garrett Dillahunt) and Lucky’s family (which includes Kate Walsh as his sleepwalking wife and Kyle Gallner as their in-the-closet son), Ted gradually realizes that family bonding has a way of redirecting one’s mission.
Clocking in at 91 minutes, “Just Before I Go’s” main strength lies in Cox’s natural ease with the ensemble, as each of the actors give solid performances in their respective roles. The always arresting Olivia Thirlby, as the teacher’s granddaughter who takes a gradual liking to Ted, is particularly memorable.
While approaching his roles with a Tasmanian devil-esque swagger is Seann William Scott’s calling card, Scott brings a more subtle and personal approach to the proceedings, infusing the right amount of melancholy to “Just Before I Go’s” comedic overtones. Credit also goes to Cox for giving venerated actresses Connie Stevens and Diane Ladd a few moments to shine.
The Special Features for “Just Before I Go” also includes director commentary from Courteney Cox, and if you love the movie, I’d suggest taking a listen to Cox’s insights on the production. A few tidbits you’ll learn from listening to the track include:
- Courteney Cox sought advice from director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Drugstore Cowboy) regarding the music score for “Just Before I Go.” Though the film’s subject matter is obviously heavy, she chose a lighter approach to the music to give the comedy a more natural entryway into the storyline.
- Seann William Scott’s hand was color-corrected during a hospital sequence in the film, as the orange tint on his hand covered up his tattoos.
- The picture was a family affair for Cox, as her daughter sang the opening tune from the film. A heavy portion of the film’s music came from her fiancee (and Snow Patrol member) Johnny McDaid. David Arquette, who’s also an executive producer on the film, plays a cuckolded husband in Just Before I Go.
- Although the movie is an indie movie (which translates as fast, on-the go filmmaking), Cox didn’t chintz on the picture’s visual aesthetic. Case in point is a beautiful crane shot featuring Scott and Connie Stevens.
In the following audio clip, Seann William Scott talks about the appeal of taking part in Just Before I Go:
Just Before I Go is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.