First-time director Jake Schreier proves you don’t need an Apatow, Rogen, or Wiig these days to make a decent buddy comedy. Frank Langella plays a cantankerous retiree showing early signs of dementia, whose children (James Marsden, Liv Tyler) hoist a robot on him to be his caretaker. Langella doesn’t have to work too hard to be a gruff smartass to the robot’s straight man (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard), and the dialogue couldn’t be better. To wit:
Robot: “Hi Frank. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Frank: “How do you know?"
Frank to Robot: “You’re starting to grow on me.”
Robot: “Thank you…. It’s time for your enema.”
Screenings: May 19 at 7 (gala, AMC Pacific Place), May 20 at 6 (Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center)
It’s a This American Life love fest. Regular contributor and comedian Mike Birbiglia worked with TAL host Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia, and Seth Barrish to turn his woe-is-me stand-up into a full-length feature film. As “Matt Pandamiglio” (groan), Mike is a struggling comic who’s so stressed about his career and the ticking biological clock of his girlfriend of eight years, Abby (Lauren Ambrose), he’s developed a dangerous sleepwalking habit. Hilarious, but dangerous. Even if Birbiglia’s Peter Pan syndrome starts to grate, hold out for the La Quinta Inn incident. The things a man will do for comedy.
Screenings: May 19 at 9 (Harvard Exit), May 23 at 9 (SIFF Cinema Uptown)
Celebrity appearance: Actor Matthew Lillard (The Descendants, Scream) makes his directorial debut with Fat Kid Rules the World playing May 18, 19, and 28. More to come on this one next week, but put the May 19 screening at the Egyptian on your calendar; Lillard will be in attendance.