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Chris Krapek

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Jesse Eisenberg and Tracy Morgan Get Extra Quirky in Why Stop Now

Posted: 07/17/2012 11:20 am

You are quirky. T.G.I. Friday's is quirky. Carly Rae Jepsen's annunciation in Call Me Maybe is quirky.

But when does quirk go from cute to making you dry heave?

Why Stop Now answers this question by intravenously injecting you with more peculiarities than Wes Anderson's brain on acid.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Eli, a 20-something piano wiz who is desperately trying to fix his dysfunctional family. His mother, Penny (Melissa Leo), is a seemingly functioning, but kind of depressing drug addict. Instead of being the nurturing matriarch for her young daughter, who wears a gross sock puppet on her hand (quirk), she paints murals in her room about the power of vaginas (quirk).

On the day Eli has an audition that could change his life, he decides to check his mother into a 28-day rehab program. Quirkily, there's a twist; her urine is clean and in some head-scratching loophole, she can only be admitted if she goes and gets high first. So, she and Eli go to her quirky dealers -- Sprinkles (Tracy Morgan) and Black (The Wire's Isiah Whitlock Jr.) -- who are out of the goods and need to re-up with their Spanish-speaking connect. Because Eli speaks Spanish, Sprinkles kinda kidnaps him and his mom to negotiate a deal.

What follows is an absurd day-in-the-life series of misadventures that exclaims "This is a dramedy and dramedic things will occur." It's like, the writers had a solid idea, but in some bizarre effort of metamorphosis, it becomes a movie stacked with indie cliché weirdness from the '90s. Massive amounts of Oxycontin are accidentally taken with convenient repercussions. A scene takes place at a young Mexican girl's birthday party. Morgan walks around with a cane and a bandage.

In the most maddening displaying of this overdose on quirkiness, several scenes and the climax take place during a Revolutionary War re-enactment. Why? WHY?! I just can't comprehend why it was necessary to distance this movie as far away from normalcy as it could. Never, in the history of humankind, has there been a day containing a sock puppet, Spanish translator, piano audition, rehab, Sprinkles, cocaine, heroin, Oxycontin and the Revolutionary War. All of this distracting accentuation seems like something you would find in a novel that would never be turned into a movie.

All that said, Why Stop Now is definitely watchable. Not "seek this out in the theater" watchable or "pay $9.99 for VOD" watchable, but "catch this on Showtime in 9-12 months on a Sunday afternoon" watchable. The movie solely rests on the kickstand that is the performances from the three leads. Academy Award-winner Leo gets the best out of the only character that is semi-dimensional. She plays a manic, bi-polar addict with gentle sincerity. She's a decent human being -- she just has an infatuation for nose candy. Morgan is also particularly good, restraining his usual zaniness and proving he is still capable of getting a laugh (For the inverse of this, see Cop Out).

I think I'm getting Eisenberg fatigue. I mean this in the most politically correct way possible, but every character he's ever played, I have to decipher if and where they fall on the autism spectrum disorder. Sometimes his monotonous delivery and neuroses work, like in The Social Network, The Squid And The Whale and Zombieland, but it's getting to the point where I've feel like once you've seen one Eisenberg performance, you've seen them all.

This role almost seems like a caricature of a role he'd take. Sadly, he actually did.

I did really like the inclusion and emphasis of the piano and all the beautiful pieces that were played. Maybe if Eisenberg just played for 90 minutes it would have been a better movie.

Have you ever even heard of this movie? I mean, these are three decent names above the title and I had no awareness of it until browsing the On Demand menu. I fear this new business model of releasing movies to VOD services a month before it's released and then dumping it in five cities across the country is counter-productive. It gives the viewer kind of an important sense of being able to see movies, in your home, possibly nude, and before everyone else, but with rampant piracy and low visibility. How do these movies even make a profit?

Why Stop Now is currently available through VOD and hits theaters on August 17th.

 
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