The Problem With People shines a spotlight on the problem with Hollywood today. Story is sacrificed for messaging. Laughter is substituted with clapter. Talent is wasted. But, hey, if you’re a fan of enjoying the first two acts of a movie, and you don’t need that pesky resolution, have I got the film for you! Director Chris Cottam’s The Problem With People is a low-stakes comedy about the fragility of family and how a simple apology is sometimes the most difficult act of humility you can make.
The story begins in Ireland, where Ciáran (Colm Meaney) is asked by his sickly father to contact Ciáran’s long-lost New York cousin Barry (Paul Reiser) and reconcile a dispute that divided the family for generations, splitting them between Ireland and America. Ciáran is a man who struggles to see the good in others but is an obedient son nevertheless. He contacts his cousin Barry and asks him to fly out to Ireland to meet him and his father. Barry, a workaholic real estate mogul, is encouraged by his daughter Natalya (Jane Levy) to take a much-needed vacation and meet his Irish relatives.
“Believing that Barry somehow manipulated his father into including him in the will, Ciáran declares war…”
Although Ciáran keeps Barry an arm’s length away emotionally, the two get along, and the reunion is a success. Ciáran’s father, full of joy over the familial healing, passes away comfortably in his sleep. What would be a happy ending derails as Ciáran discovers that his father, in his final days, changed his will to include Barry as a co-beneficiary in everything. Believing that Barry somehow manipulated his father into including him in the will, Ciáran declares war against Barry. Ciáran wants Barry to relinquish his right to the land left by his father, and Barry, who wants nothing to do with the will or the land, decides to stay and fight out of spite.
From the opening scene, you are pulled into the Irish, grouchy charm that sets the tone nicely against the lush, cozy, and rainy setting. The duality of Ireland perfectly reflects the ever-fluctuating human condition of warmth and melancholy. Paul Reiser is great in everything he does, and it was a pleasure to see Colm Meaney in a lead role for once. These aren’t brilliant performances, but the two actors are so believable as real people awkwardly reconnecting. The problem with The Problem With People, aside from having to pretend that Paul Reiser is Irish, is everything after the opening scene.
"…low-stakes comedy about the fragility of family..."