Sorry for the alliterative headline, but most of the time I fail to create clever titles. Cleverness, however, isn’t lacking in Apartment Troubles, a wry and surprisingly resonant comedy directed and penned by lead actresses Jennifer Prediger (Life of Crime) and Jess Weixler (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby).
Olivia (Prediger) and Nicole (Weixler) are being kicked out of their unkempt Manhattan apartment. Though a brief smooching session between Nicole and their eccentric landlord (Jeffrey Tambor) gets them twenty something days of breathing room, the pair are understandably worried beyond belief.
The BFFs have quirks of their own: Olivia is a struggling, neurotic actress with an all too co-dependent relationship with Nicole and her cat, while Nicole is a struggling artist with anti-social tendencies. Suffocated by their circumstances and needing a breath of fresh air, the pair head to Los Angeles, where they visit Kimberly (Megan Mullally), Olivia’s aunt, unannounced.
Kimberly heads up a competition TV series that’s in the vein of America’s Got Talent, and the ladies’ erratic, stultifying audition doesn’t change their misfortunes. Most of the storyline’s comedy arises from Olivia and Nicole’s unexpected antics (if you’ve ever wanted to see a feline’s fiery burial atop a NYC rooftop, here’s your chance), with Kimberly, the landlord, and a pill popping stranger (Will Forte) serving as the mentally unstable characters that litter their universe.
Though it’s an indie film, Weixler and Prediger didn’t go lo-fi with their creative vision by crafting their story on both coasts. Since both actresses have first rate comedic timing and chemistry with each other, the duo could have created an innocuous storyline filled with innocuous punchlines and a saccharine ending. Such a compromise, ironically, may have attracted more viewers to a more genial version of Apartment Troubles.
Mixed in with moments of heightened hilarity comes an unexpected bracing subtext to the narrative, as both Nicole and Olivia’s shenanigans mask their mutual unease at the fractured friendship. Prediger and Wexler blend their comedy with an undercurrent of tragedy and loneliness, and by the film’s close I was pleasantly surprised by the comedy’s evocative turn into this arena.
The meat of Apartment Troubles expands on the trope of mismatched friends who continuously exist on society’s fringes, and there’s enough humorous (and cringe-worthy) instances to keep their misadventures entertaining. Though the movie is a showcase for Prediger and Weixler’s comedic acumen, Mullally, Tambor, and Forte also get their respective moments to shine, adding an extra level of crazy to the proceedings.
Even though it’s by nature a comedy, it’s during the more intimate spaces where Apartment Troubles shows its deepest colors. Whether it’s taking a plunge into the Pacific Ocean or making a new feline friend (an element of the storyline is inspired by Prediger’s memories of her own cat), these women are in need of a profound wake-up call. Funny jokes, late rent payments, and horrible reality shows aside, life continues to move forward. It’s a cherished lesson that, for Olivia and Nicole, makes “apartment troubles” seem tame in comparison.
Apartment Troubles, which also features cameos from Lance Bass and Christopher Reid, opens in select theaters and on VOD today. To purchase the movie on iTunes, click on the link.