As the opening credits roll, we’re treated to the blossoming relationship between actors Jake (James Huang) and Ally (Elizabeth Sandy). The two go through all the usual steps, moving in together, working and making a movie together, getting married; all is bliss.
Of course, as soon as the credits end, the bliss is over. A year after the opening montage of happiness, and the couple is in therapy on the verge of divorce, suffering through an IRS audit and generally miserable and financially destitute. How did it all go wrong so fast?
James Huang’s feature film, Starting From Scratch, tackles the fallout when reality intrudes on the romantic dream. As Jake and Ally navigate their failing marriage in their own flawed ways, we get to laugh at their misfortune, such as Jake’s casual dalliances among the bar and club scene, and Ally’s adventures with yoga instructor True (Billy Beck).
Starting From Scratch embraces that level of comedy that finds humor in reality. Of course, that reality is Los Angeles, so it’s of the heightened, almost absurd, variety of life. It’s messy, arguably gibberish at times, but nevertheless honest (I refuse to use the word “true” because of True).
So the film is funny, but if you’ve ever been in a long term relationship, or gone through your own marital ups and downs, the film also hits painfully close to home. It is entertaining, until you have your own sobering moments where you remember those decisions where your heart spoke louder than logic or your wallet allowed.
Overall, I had a hard time thinking of anything that struck me as lacking with the film. It finds a perfect balance between the humorous and the dramatic, and from a technical viewpoint, the film is as professional as you can get, so there are no moments where I found it tripping over itself there. I do think folks will find it entertaining in varying degrees depending on their own life experiences, whether in relating precisely to what is happening or even the opposite, but my life made sure that I was ready to really appreciate Starting From Scratch, and the film did the rest.
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