A Better You (Matt Walsh: 2015) USA

Reviewed by Logan Kovarick. Seen at the Santa Barbara Film Festival 2015.

Funny man Matt Walsh, who you’ve seen as the doctor in the Hangover or Ted, directs a mildly funny, repetitive and one dimensional. A Better You explores the life of Dr. Ron White, a hypnotherapist in midlife crisis while juggling a rise in business as well as battling for custody of his two children. The film stars Brian Huskey, who has played a small role in just about every comedy, as well as Horatio Sans, the Saturday Night Live veteran. The film also had appearances from Walsh himself, Nick Kroll, and Andrew Daly.

The first act of the film was where most of the laughs were. The audience gets to explore this character of Ron White and the world he lives in. They capture the Los Angles setting quite well.  However, when the second and third act rolled around, I found myself checking my phone wanting to leave the theater. They beat the dead horse a million times with the same joke and situational irony. The chemistry of the family and friends felt placed and dry opposed to being fluent. There was no depth to it, it was like listening to nails on a white board. Around two thirds of the way through, it felt like the crew had a certain amount of time they had to reach instead of ending it short. They were just dragging us along with them to make this work. It just didn’t work for me. They added things they didn’t need to, said the same things and the film felt extremely repetitive.

At the end of the film there was a question and answer section with the cast of the film, what the audience was soon to find out, was that the film was primarily all improvised. Well then! That explains all of my problems. You can’t make a full length film like that, you have to have structure, guidance, set obstacles and everything you would look to find in a normal narrative. This film proves that a full improv film will just not hold an audience for 2 hours. Imagine watching a bad Saturday Night live sketch for 2 hours, thats what it felt like. Like I said, the first act works, because you’re exploring, and you’re meeting new funny characters. Once we’ve understood all of this, everything just lingers in a disappointing way and you want out. I applaud this cast and crew for attempting to improvise a whole film, but we have to learn from our mistakes; this should never happen again.

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