As a society, it seems like we are finally getting away from mental illness as a complete stigma. Of course, you can read the news any day and the lack of care either by a deficiency of facilities or not being able to afford it might not seem that way. At least it seems to be acknowledged and I believe will become even more prevalent in movies. Sure, it’s been portrayed in film and comedies many times prior. I personally love things like Drop Dead Fred or Cable Guy. With a film like Entanglement, it feels a little shoehorned in and not well planned out.
It begins with Ben Layten (Thomas Middleditch) trying to kill himself. This film in trying to be a comedy, shows him failing in a number of ways. The problem is, not only are the jokes not funny, but I’m not sure if I’d want to be laughing at someone trying to commit suicide. Maybe further into the film after fleshing out the characters and doing it in a completely over-the-top way, but this is in the first two minutes and nothing has been established. If any of it was funny, then maybe my opinion would change.
None of the comedy portions worked, the dialogue constantly felt forced and was quite cringy. As the film progresses, however, there is a decent movie and plot hiding within. Six months pass since Ben’s failed attempt. He is seeing a child therapist (never explained) and trying to get better. In successive quick scenes, he meets a pretty girl (Jess Weixler) while picking up his medications and she literally throws her phone number at him while he tries to not interact with her and then meet his neighbor Tabby who is in love with him and helps take care of him since his incident. Two beautiful women that want to be with this guy who has zero personality. Yep, romantic comedy it is.
Suddenly, we are whisked away to the hospital where his father is rushed to there with a heart attack. In these two minutes, we are bombarded with a bunch of unfunny jokes between father/son/doctor. Apparently, they can just pause on the way to the O.R. and have a conversation. The father (in no apparent distress) blurts out that Ben almost had an adoptive sister, but they had to give her back due to his mother being pregnant with him. Then Ben goes to his mothers where she is painting. All I could think of was the poor father alone in the hospital having surgery, his son rushing off to see him then when this plot point carries out, everyone else goes on with their lives and he is alone. The whole scene made my brain hurt with how bad it was done.
All the convenient plot up to this point leads Ben to question his existence and try to find the sister he almost had. His rationale that maybe she would have changed his life and he would have been on another path. Then he wouldn’t have tried killing himself and she would have taught him things to make his life better. So he and Tabby head to the adoption agency, where $50 can buy any information. And the best part… they don’t even need to wait! A folder will be handed to you ten seconds later. It’s like the fella at the desk knew they were coming.
Ben follows his “quest” and the address leads him to the girl from the pharmacy. A whirlwind friendship leads to a whirlwind romance as Ben tries to find what’s missing in his life. The story has many twists and turns and they telegraph every single one of them. I’m not one to normally figure things out ahead of time in twist happy films and will genuinely be surprised in a lot of the time. Certainly not the case here.
It probably seems like I hate this film seeing as I spent the past few paragraphs railing on it. That’s actually not the case. The problems stem from scenes being rushed and the dialogue. The writer and director don’t have a lot of film credits to their name and I feel like this film mostly boils down to inexperience and not knowing what they wanted. With more experience and time Entanglement might have felt more complete.
If this film was able to add maybe twenty minutes and nix the comedy, there could actually be an interesting drama in here. The main characters were acted well and were interesting, they just needed more story to develop and not just convenient scenes to rush the story along. I also quite liked the cinematography. It was a strong point for the film. The shots were engaging and the DP knew his craft. I especially liked some of the “surreal” moments as they enhanced the story and gave it a unique flair.
Entanglement Overall: 2/5
At its core, Entanglement is a romantic comedy with no laughs. I think anyone that likes the cast might enjoy the film. It’s certainly not unwatchable and if the trailer looks interesting then probably worth a rental. If the film had more depth to the story and didn’t rush certain scenes, I’d be more inclined to recommend. Entanglement had good promise and I can see where others might find it differently.
Entanglement is out in theaters this week and can also be rented On Demand.