Seeing movies at festivals is almost an entirely different experience than watching them regularly at home or your local theater. For example, after about 13 movies at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, I stumbled into Literally, Right Before Aaron with the desperate need of something simple, to relax the mind between the more audacious movies the festival had to offer. At the time, writer-director Ryan Eggold’s film functioned as a palate cleanser for the mind.
Through more refreshed eyes, however, the issues with Literally, Right Before Aaron feel more in the foreground but the movie is simple and slight and goes down easy. It’s not a movie you are going to rush out to see at the closest theater playing it but one night, after a long week at work, you might find it on demand and think “Why not?” You could do worse.
“The phone call seems like another dagger to Adam…”
Justin Long stars as Adam, who was dumped by his longtime girlfriend, Allison (Cobie Smulders), over a year ago and hasn’t seem to totally recovered from it. Out of the blue one day, he gets a call from her telling him that she is getting married and wants to know if he would want to come to the wedding. The phone call seems like another dagger to Adam but Allison tries to prove that they can still be friends, despite their romantic history.
Adam accepts the offer, reluctantly with his barely mended heart, but tries to play it cool. He is involved in a great deal of the wedding process, from the rehearsal dinner and drinks the night before to the actual big day. He tries to befriend Allison’s betrothed, Aaron (Ryan Hansen), which goes as well as you could imagine.
Eggold plays ping-pong with the film’s tones, moving from broad and slapstick to serious in the matter of a scene. Some scenes play awkwardly because he doesn’t commit to the comedy or the drama of the moment but as the movie progresses, it appears Eggold wants us to feel as uncomfortable as possible at this wedding. If so, mission accomplished.
“…moving from broad and slapstick to serious in the matter of a scene.”
Long has yet to really mold himself into a bona fide leading man, appearing front-and-center for the majority of the movie. Adam isn’t always the most likeable, running the gamut of dorky and sarcastic, needy and malicious. If you can’t handle yourself at your ex-girlfriend’s wedding, maybe you should just not attend.
Literally, Right Before Aaron sets up its been-there premise without much deviation before heading into sitcom territory for the final act. In fact, most of the movie plays like a pilot that was never picked up for a full season. Even so, the movie is easy-breezy and passes by without much fuss – sometimes that’s just enough.
Literally, Right Before Aaron (2017). Directed by Ryan Eggold. Written by Ryan Eggold. Starring Justin Long, Cobie Smulders, Ryan Hansen.