Everyone knows that the phrase “we need to talk” is usually not a good thing. In Todd Wolfe’s comedic drama, We Need to Talk, James Maslow is ViewTube gamer Great Scott and is so clueless and self-absorbed that this common knowledge isn’t apparent to him. Scott’s girlfriend Aly (Christel Khalil) tells him the dreaded phrase as she’s leaving for work, but Scott is too busy playing games and reading viewer comments to notice anything else going on.
We all know addicted gamers like this. I was one myself as a kid growing up in the era of Atari and the NES, and all the way up until breaking the cycle during the PS3 years. After watching the film, it made me think that I must’ve been a neglectful boyfriend, much like Great Scott, during that time. How present can you be when you’re always focused on games, or in my case, also on movies and television? As We Need to Talk wore on, it was easier to sympathize with the douchebag Scott than I initially thought.
Scott is exhausted from staying up late to play his games, and he hardly listens to anything that isn’t game or influencer-related, but he did catch that his girlfriend needs to talk… on a delayed reaction after she left. He mentions this info in passing to his gamer friends and subscribers, and that’s when the comments start flooding in, sending Scott on a paranoid trip for the rest of the film about trying to guess what Aly has to say.
“…Aly tells him the dreaded phrase…but Scott is too busy playing games and reading viewer comments to notice…”
The core cast of Maslow, Khalil, Johnathan Fernandez as Scott’s video editor and buddy Joe, and Emily Bett Rickards as Aly’s outspoken best friend Amber are all convincing and entertaining in their roles. They find the right balance between the comedy and drama. The supporting cast is also great at embodying the trash-talking yet close-knit community of gamers.
While there were a few good chuckles, I feel like We Need to Talk could’ve used more humor. It’s mostly a one-note story about Scott’s obsession with finding out what Aly needs to talk about until the end. It tries to incorporate some sentimentality that feels off because it’s a drastic departure from the rest of the story.
I read in an interview from News WWC that writer/director Todd Wolfe wanted to “…evoke some of the same emotions I’d encountered growing up when enjoying the films of revered comedic storytellers like John Hughes, Harold Ramis, and John Landis.” I can tell that Wolfe was going for a John Hughes-esque feel with the way that the ending plays out. But it’s a very difficult, nuanced tightrope walk between comedy and drama to be able actually to pull it off.
Overall, I enjoyed the gamer community that We Need to Talk recreated. The interactions between Scott and Amber were my favorite scenes because of the raw and open character played perfectly by Rickards. She’s one of the few characters who see through Scott’s BS and actually calls him out on it in a funny way. More of Rickards would have been great, but maybe we’ll see that in a sequel titled something like We Need to Talk 2: This Time it’s Serious.
"…Wolfe was going for a John Hughes-esque feel..."