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Literally, Right Before Aaron Review

Literally, Right Before Aaron is a 2017 comedy/drama about a young man who attends the wedding of his ex-girlfriend with profound effect.

Movies have always taken to the extremes, living in hyper-realistic, overly-exaggerated worlds where people and places are on the very cusp of familiar yet mostly just out of reach so as to give it that fantasy we long for in our escapist fun. Romantic comedies are perhaps the more subtle of the lot, and maybe walk the most thinnest of lines. From Woody Allen to Rob Reiner, the genre is full of gems that juggle genuine emotional and meaningful stories with plenty of good-natured humor. Few though make that balance work quite so well, and now comes Ryan Eggold‘s Literally, Right Before Aaron, a sometimes quirky movie that works hard for the funny while it does much better with the drama.

Adam (Justin Long) is an uneven man crippled by his breakup with longtime girlfriend Allison (Cobie Smulders), his college sweetheart of many years. Even though it’s been more than a year, when she suddenly calls him, he’s not quite ready for her news. She’s getting married and wants him to come to the wedding. He tries to play it cool, but it’s devastating, yet agrees to attend. Leading up to the big day, he experiences his biggest feelings of loss and ponders if he should try to win her back, his thoughts overrun with memories of them together. It doesn’t help that all around him are reminders of not just her but how pathetic being single must be. Now all he has to do is find out how to move on.

The most frustrating thing about Literally, Right Before Aaron is its relentless push to be goofy while unapologetically sentimental. The film makes great leaps over enormous chasms to make the best use of Long’s trademark self-deprecating comedic style while spinning plates to get laughs from everyone else. Granted, he’s probably the best thing going for it, even while there is absolutely nothing different about anything he’s doing, but it’s worked well for him in the past. He brings the most humanity to the whole thing, and is very good at keeping it centered. We can identify with a lot of what he’s doing, even if he’s not the best person on the planet. The problem is with just about every single person orbiting around him. While they are surely meant to be amplified personalities, it becomes a growing distraction designed solely to cause Adam discomfort.

That starts with people like his boss, Orson Schwartzman (Peter Gallagher), the star of a nature documentary series who prattles on endless about the habits of mating animals and the need for love. There’s the best man, who during a rehearsal dinner constantly emphasises how perfect Allison and her fiancée Aaron (Ryan Hansen) are together. There’s Adam’s old college friend Greg (Malcolm Barrett) – whom he can’t remember – who chimes in about how perfect Adam’s life was with Allison. And so on. Others show up, such as Kristen Schaal as the kooky date and Lea Thompson as Adam’s mother, who add even more comedic fringe. And while Eggold doesn’t seem to be trying to be broad, the ingredients are there, keeping the film sort of in a state of limbo between real personal anguish and zany pratfalls.

That said, there are good things to be had and despite the overpopulation, when it puts its efforts into the catastrophe that is Adam, it finds good footing without making him a trope. There are some well-earned moments of panic, humor, and even some rawness that make it work in unexpected ways. It’s just too bad it’s unsure about everything else.

Literally, Right Before Aaron Review

Movie description: Literally, Right Before Aaron is a 2017 comedy/drama about a young man who attends the wedding of his ex-girlfriend with profound effect.

Director(s): Ryan Eggold

Actor(s): Justin Long, Cobie Smulders, Lea Thompson, Kristen Schaal

Genre: Romance, Comedy

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