Shy Steve (Stanley Wong) has just been fired from his job, and an opportunity to finally speak up to his co-worker crush, Alice (Jenn Foreman), came and went. At home, prepared to kill himself, he decides to phone his friend John (Joe Sökmen) instead. This spurs him on to reunite his small group of friends for a brief vacation together at his family’s lake house.
Of course, comedian-maybe-crazyperson Chris (Owen Hornstein) isn’t really talking to lothario Tom (Tyler Russell), and John is just quietly enduring all of them from a distance, so the impromptu get-together may be ill-advised. However, save for some initial tension, the group seems to get along fine, and their time at the lake house starts out fun enough. That is until a drunk Steve reveals that he’s been thinking of killing himself, and the group comes together in an effort to keep him alive.
Charlie LaVoy’s Steve Chong Finds Out That Suicide Is A Bad Idea is not a bad film. It’s not a great film. It’s more in keeping with its overall tone, which is a very middle of the road feel. There are moments where it dragged, moments where it was extremely entertaining. Overall, though, it just was.
Sure, there are attempts at fleshing out the backstories of the other characters, and they do work for the most part. Tiny revelations, cleared up, or newly created, misunderstandings. It’s all fine. But just as Steve struggles with a specific reason for committing suicide, so too do I struggle with finding a specific reason why I didn’t enjoy this film more.
Because it has everything I dig. Awkward moments and strange comedy (watching the friends’ reactions as they try to suicide-proof the lake house, only to realize how daunting that task will be) are my thing, as it were. The film looks really good. So, why? Why didn’t this one make a better impression on me?
Part of it could be the friends themselves. Like many films nowadays, I often wonder how a certain group of people ever became friends, let alone stayed that way. In this case, considering two of the group have been estranged for a while, there was a conflict already there, but I never really got why they all enjoyed being around each other at all. I mean, remove drinking games from the equation and it’s a wonder they even speak to each other.
Or maybe Steve isn’t all that compelling a character to center a film around (which is a shitty thing to think about a guy who is already so low he wants to kill himself). He just seems fairly personality-less throughout. While I have no interest in seeing him complete his suicidal endeavor, I also don’t want to hang around him much either. Maybe I’m projecting that on a friend or two of his, but save for John, they often seem like they just want to survive the experience so they can say they did what they could, and then get out of there as fast as possible too.
So, I’m conflicted, friends. Again, on a purely technical and filmmaking level, this is a good, quality film. The performances aren’t bad, the characters are just what they are and, in the case of Steve, not that interesting. So, the film maintains a quality course down the middle for me. I wish I liked it more, I feel like I should have… but I just don’t.
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