The first half was brilliant -- four stars easy; the last half a little less so. I think Mike White has evolved though. He took similar themes (obsession and mental illness/breakdown) and made them work real well in his new HBO show with Laura Dern.
The first half was poignant and bittersweet; the latter half lost my allegiance when it allowed stereotypes to drive the story and resolved it without any sort of revelation or evolution for Peggy. However, Molly Shannon is wonderful as Peggy, transcending her SNL persona to bring something more nuanced to the screen.
I think it was about how some times people try so hard to do good in this world they end up neglecting/destroying themselves in the process. It's about finding a happy medium, being selfless and helping others but at the same time allowing yourself to be happy. It's an easy concept to relate to wanting to do more good than one person is capable of but you have to do what you can and what makes you happy.
What was billed as a light, quirky comedy á la Juno was actually a depressing, disturbing look at mental illness and obsession. It’s still a very good, very well-written movie, but I wasn’t quite prepared for that. Molly Shannon is absolutely brilliant in a cast full of glib performances. She’s the best part of the movie. Also, the dog dies. It’s a very cute and lovable dog. I cried.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I feel like Mike White and I are kindred spirits. I love how he's not afraid of the sentimental, of exploring the inevitable ache that eventually accompanies all that sweetness.
His works are lonely and anxious and full of love and care and an earnestness that's simultaneously the most uncomfortable thing in the world and the most desirable. I don't know.