Mavis is a horribly superficial person Her position of mild celebrity, coming from the rural town of Mercury, Minnesota and making it all the way to the cultural mecca that is…“the Minni-Apple”, gives her an inflated personality, while the rest of the town seems to be more or less unimpressed. When she goes home constantly dressed to the nines, people roll their eyes and almost everyone realizes—except Mavis—that she has some issues to work out. Her relentless pursuit of Buddy, a happily married man, is borderline nauseating in its desperation. Along with all of this, she is constantly drinking to deal with her emotions, which makes her even more pitiful because she keeps meeting up with Matt (who disapproves of the plan) to “get wasted.” She’s still behaving like a high schooler even though she;s now in her 30s and everyone else is being an adult.
It’s interesting to watch Mavis deal with her fading spotlight while slowly coming to realizes her own problems. While depression is a serious issue, Mavis’s sheer lack of acknowledgement of her own problems and depression makes her hard to sympathize with. One of the few moments where I found myself on her side was when she went to a bookstore and saw a pile of books in her series on the clearance table. Watching her confront the truth about her books’ popularity was surprisingly sad, but that feeling didn’t last too long; she very maturely dealt with the situation by knocking a book off the table. I more often than not felt myself pitying Mavis, along with the other characters in the film. When she goes to see Buddy’s wife’s band play, she is hanging all over him. The other women shake their heads disapprovingly and shoot her dirty looks. Her lack of subtlety is painful to watch. Matt is truly the only person who is honest with her about how terrible her actions are, and to make it worse she continues with her antics and then goes drinking with Matt. While he protests her mission to ruin Buddy’s life, he still is there to commiserate with her when she fails; she can go out with Buddy and when she fails to win him over, Matt can cheer her up which isn’t good for either of them.
What I found to be the saddest part of the film was Patton Oswalt’s character. When he first talks to Mavis in the bar, she doesn’t remember him until she sees his cane: he’s the “hate crime guy.” In high school, Matt was jumped in the woods and beaten by a group of jocks because they thought he was gay. “It made national news…until they found out I wasn’t gay.” While I understand the clichéd idea of the nerdy, pudgy guy and the beautiful, popular girl—which don’t get me wrong, they both are—becoming friends, the whole hate crime aspect of his character is just too damn depressing for me. Not that it was done poorly, but it seemed to be almost too much sadness without adding very much to the film.
I liked the film, but didn’t love it. It thrived on the awkward moments between Buddy and Mavis, but when we learn about the full story between them it is, like the rest of the film, just so utterly depressing that I really just didn’t care enough to think too much about her shitty behavior. It felt much more natural to wallow in sorrow over the characters’ back stories than to analyze why that lead to them behaving the way they do now. It’s not that it was poorly executed, but I think the film lacked some balance to keep me caring about anything. The overall feeling the film left me with was a sense of existential dread, but in the best possible way!
Length: 94 Minutes