Cinema Review: Better Living Through Chemistry | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Better Living Through Chemistry

Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Directed by David Posamentier and Geoff Moore

Mar 13, 2014 Web Exclusive
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Small town pharmacist Doug Varney has a disapproving father-in-law for a boss, a hyper-competitive fitness junkie for a wife and a disaffected weirdo for a son. When he stumbles into an affair with a bored trophy wife, Doug’s attempts at recreational self-medication begin to spiral out of control.

Above all else, Better Living Through Chemistry wants to have its cake and eat it too. From the opening montage of quirky townspeople, to the zany attempts by the main character to spice up his dull life, to the pointless, voice-of-god-style narration by Jane Fonda, the film is another in a decade-long line of blandly twee indie films about the self-actualization of boring, middle-class white people. The film also features prescription drug abuse and eventually a Double Indemnity-style murder plot, which comes off as an attempt by debut co-directors David Posamentier and Geoff Moore to give the film an edge over its competitors in the indie-dramedy field. The utter lack of a change in tone as these more lurid events progress completely neuters their impact and leaves the whole film feeling limp.

If nothing else, the directors have assembled an impressive, if underutilized cast. Sam Rockwell remains effortlessly charming, even when playing the stock chump protagonist that is Doug Varney. If not for his presence, Olivia Wilde would continue her streak of being the best thing in a bad film. This is in spite of the fact that the film only asks her to be beautiful and aloof, despite the fact that her best qualities as an actress are that she’s approachable and funny. The greatest casting sin, however, is saddling the delightful Michelle Monaghan with another in a long line of boring, border-line offensive, ball busting wife roles. Anyone who remembers her as the fast-talking femme fatale from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang will agree that it is an egregious waste of her talent, which is probably the best five words one could use to describe this entire effort.


Author rating: 2/10

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