What aspects exactly and accurately define what a man is and who he should be? When does this determination stop being accurate? Was it ever that way to begin with? Well, there are no solid answers to those questions, but Alonso Mayo is determined to deconstruct the inquiry so that its ridiculousness and toxicity are on full display in his latest comedy feature. While Fixed sports characters who are superficial, singular-focused, and borderline misogynistic, it all plays back to the central theme of married relationships at the mercy of midlife crises.
Allan (Andy Comeau) and his wife Maria (Courtney Henggeler) are nearing the end of their thirties, their married life taking a sizable nosedive in recent days as they struggle to parent their three rambunctious kids. Though relying too strongly on half-baked couples therapy with Dr. Foster (Mindy Sterling) to fix what they determine to be the issues in their marriage, Allan remains almost exclusively preoccupied with his lackluster sex life, and a refusal to buy a minivan. When Maria can no longer remain on birth control, Allan’s world begins to spiral in a flash of drunken rants with his friends, podcast hosts and fellow dads, Phil (Leonard Roberts), and Jason (Nelson Franklin), doing nothing but adding to his confusion over what to do. Disillusionment soon finds Allan set up with an impending vasectomy with a very kurt urologist (Alan Ruck) questioning his every reason for being there. This unease, constantly hounded by panic-induced fever dream-like hallucinations, culminates in a crazed weekend where Allan refuses to grow up, but adulthood finds him regardless.
“…determined to deconstruct…married relationships at the mercy of midlife crises.”
Foremost, the chemistry between every cast member is rather impressive and each scene feels equally realistic and utterly nonsensical all in the same breath. Comeau and Henggeler are the pinnacle, batting words back and forth with extreme ease hallmarked by realistic relationship dynamics evident from the very first scene. Their on-screen couple, constantly projecting desires for the perfect spouse onto each other, is sold with frightening conviction. Roberts and Franklin are combative, animated, and the friends that should never give advice, as usually it ends up further complicating every scenario that the trio fall into. Ruck, Keesha Sharp and Sonya Eddy lead the other supporting cast as the most hilarious and most invested into the characters, delivering solid and thoroughly enjoyable performances.
Mayo’s editing reflects his directorial style quite well, producing a natural flow that lasts the majority of the runtime with very few visible hiccups. This is made truly possible by the eclectic eye of cinematographer Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, whose work is most pronounced during the reoccuring deranged dream sequences where Allan’s anxieties get more absurd and pronounced. However, Mayo and Bryan Erwin’s screenplay is rather lifeless on its surface, and relies almost exclusively on the energy of the cast to carry the plot rather than being a strong story in its own right. The subtext and commentary are definitely (and evidently) here, as well as a bucket-full of legitimate humor, but ultimately it scrapes shallow as a raunchy comedy or a social critique.
“ …feels equally realistic and utterly nonsensical all in the same breath.”
Though at first glance this appears to be a Hangover-style romp with men enjoying one last weekend of “freedom” before submitting to the death of their dreams, it eventually evolves into a micro-odyssey to discover what their new dreams should be, rather than a continuous focus on the past. Each of the trio constantly batter the ideas of masculinity and how a vasectomy effects that distinction, though none have any answers beyond endless posturing and self-reassurance that they are the only ones in the right, learning very little from their experience beyond trying not to piss off their wives. While its plot and characters are nothing too special, the conviction of its cast, the endless snappy banter, and the strong blocking and direction give Fixed a unique life of its own.
Fixed (2018) Directed by: Alonso Mayo. Written by: Alonso Mayo, Bryan Erwin. Starring: Andy Comeau, Mindy Sterling, Leonard Roberts, Nelson Franklin.
★★★½ / ☆☆☆☆☆