Having done morose to such great comic effect as a mute Goth kid in Little Miss Sunshine and zealous to fine dramatic impact as the phoney preacher in There Will Be Blood, boyishly good looking American actor Paul Dano graduates from supporting player to leading man in this comic drama, which he also executive produced, and which is released in the UK on his 25th birthday. It’s a self-consciously quirky US indie, co-written by newcomers Adam Nagata and Matt Aselton, who also directs, and starring Dano as an unassuming New York mattress salesman named Brian Weathersby whose plan to adopt a Chinese baby is complicated by the unforeseen arrival into his quiet life of Zooey Deschanel’s kooky and carefree Harriet ‘Happy’ Lolly. Brian just wants to settle down and enjoy being a single parent, but his growing fascination with Happy threatens to turn his life upside-down, not least when the flighty girl announces she’s leaving America for Europe.
The above events unfold in a series of odd off-kilter scenes involving various eccentric characters – Happy’s imperious father Al (John Goodman), Brian’s bumbling parents (Ed Asner and Jane Alexander), Brian’s Zen-like colleague Roger (The Wire’s Clarke Peters) – and the film has the slow burning, meandering pace and plotting that feels familiar from one too many idiosyncratic independent movies. And the book-ending scenes, in which Brian does battle with a violent homeless guy, are wantonly enigmatic and not a little pretentious. But Dano and Deschanel are very watchable, and they’re supported by a great veteran cast.
Selected release from Fri 19 Jun.