After many tries that get no closer to an equitable detente, Jack’s ultimate solution pushes maximum absurdity, and every repeated cycle of The Argument is funnier than the one before.
Jack is a character you know well. In the 1980s, Jack would have been played by Curtis Armstrong. In the late ’90s, Jack Black’s character Barry from High Fidelity would be cast, and then pass the torch to Seth Rogen in 2010. For 2020 Dan Fogler delivers the pitch-perfect archetype of the unkempt, mildly depressive, lovable schlub who feels dramatically inferior to his romantic partner. Lisa is out of Jack’s league, and he’s well aware.
Let’s spend a minute considering Danny Pudi. I love Dan Harmon’s Community. Love, love, Lurve that show. The best character in Community is Pudi’s Abed Nadir, the arguably autistic, media-obsessed nerd, who, along with Donald Glover’s Troy Barnes, gave us the best buddy comedy vibe in a generation. Community ran in parallel with The Big Bang Theory, which gave us Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, who shares many traits with Abed. It was always too much to hope the two would meet. I can’t imagine having character creators Dan Harmon, and Chuck Lorre in the same room would result in anything but a fistfight.
“…situation that trades on old tropes while still reading as absolutely fresh.”
With outrageous creative minds behind the characters who seem ill-suited for society, I always wonder if they and their fans are all on the spectrum? That’s meant to throw no shade, there, as I’m kinda, well, one of them.
It’s become cool to hate on The Big Bang Theory because it got so popular, which is a trend I will never understand. Your relationship with characters and stories is not a social event. It’s yours. However, I’m not cool, so I’m not meant to understand, and I’ll go right on liking the weird s**t that I like, even when the hip crowd declares my weirdness outside the approved current list of weird stuff. I’m old, so there’ve been several generations of those lists. I ignore them all with impunity. But I digress…
In the same way that Parsons is not Sheldon, and Nimoy was not Spock, Pudi is not Abed. He takes the opportunity in The Argument to showcase how not-Abed he is, and he’s fantastic. Watching him crawling up the wall behind the couch to get away from his enraged girlfriend, Sarah is priceless.
The entire cast of The Argument delivers. Of particular note is Cleopatra Coleman as Trina. Not only does she have a dazzling smile, but she’s also intensely charismatic and nearly steals all her scenes. I expect to see her, and the rest of this cast, in other works.
Writer Zac Stanford and Director Robert Schwartzman have pulled off a rare win here: they put the viewer in a cringe-worthy, but familiar, situation that trades on old tropes while still reading as absolutely fresh. The key to that success is how well written and performed the characters are, as well as being generationally on target…once the viewer cares about the characters; the plot is easier to finesse. That’s not to say the plot is weaker here than character development. It’s very clever and keeps us engaged in the whole film. Adding yet another win to the Indie film world, The Argument proves a filmmaker does not need a big budget to make a great movie.
The Argument winds up being either the most horrifying funny scriptwriting workshop ever, or a really f***ed up version of Groundhog Day. Either way, an exact-science blend of tight scripting and a strong ensemble cast make this film a new comedy gem.
"…tight scripting and a strong ensemble cast make this film a new comedy gem."