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The Year of Spectacular Men Review

From the Twin Cities Film Festival – The Year of Spectacular Men is about a woman who struggles to navigate the seemingly incessant failures of adulthood, the reality of a substandard dating pool and a debilitating fear of top-sheets, all in between X-Files marathons.

The Year of Spectacular Men was Directed by Lea Thompson and it features her daughters Zoey and Madelyn Deutch in the lead roles. This was a family project with Madelyn writing the script, Zoey composing some of the score and husband and father Howard Deutch serving as a producer.

Our lead character in this tale is a girl named Izzy (Madelyn Deutch) fresh out of college who recently got dumped by her boyfriend Aaron (Jesse Bradford) for reasons I’m not 100 percent sure I understand. I know one of them had something to do with her fear of top sheets. She goes to live with her more successful sister Sabrina (Zoey Deutch) and her boyfriend Sebastian (Avan Jogia). While living there she begins going out with various men throughout the year in hopes that she can find what she calls a perfect ending to her story.

I will start off by saying that every single cast member in this is really good. I fully bought into each and every one of their characters and if this did ever get picked up and turned into a series on Netflix or Hulu, I would be down with this because I liked spending time with them.  Madelyn Deutch is really good at displaying some very hysterical examples of classic physical comedy, with her audition scene involving  a chair. She even has some good dramatic tender moments with her sister about the death of their father. Izzy is not perfect and the girl does make a lot of bad choices, and I am glad that her flaws are not watered down to be the same cliches you may find in other movies.

Zooey Deutch gets a lot of praise too for her performance as the more successful sister.  Sabrina may seem like the pinnacle of success but it is clear she is not 100 percent happy with her life. After the death of her father, her mother Deb (Lea Thompson) begins dating a woman named Amethyst (Melissa Bolona) and there is a lot of issues she has to deal with.  Not only about her mother getting over the loss of her father when she herself hasn’t, there’s maybe hidden issues of homophobia that she has never confronted herself about.

Not only are the ladies worth praising about, but the men are as well. Jesse Bradford who plays Aaron, the guy who first kicks Izzy out of their home, has his faults, but his reasoning for not wanting to stay in the relationship are valid. I can even understand why they both decided to try one more time having sex. It’s something that I have done before knowing it was a mistake. But like Alvy Singer says in Annie Hall, “Sometimes, we just need the eggs.” Other notable make cast members were Brandon T. Jackson who plays Logan, a drummer of a local band (something I can relate to), Nicholas Braun as Charlie, the director of Sabrina’s latest feature, and Cameron Monaghan as Charlie, Izzy’s theatre partner. I liked how each of these guys could almost be the lead in their own movie. Each of them in a small way overcame their obstacles that were preventing them from becoming better people.

Without getting into too much spoiler territory. There is one moment involving infidelity as a way to bring in tension that I didn’t feel was earned. If it would have shown those two characters even having any hint of sexual attraction, I could buy into them hooking up, but in the story it feels thrown in just to have actors yell at the screen.

I think a good dramatic story line besides Izzy finding a good and healthy relationship (not just with a significant other, but herself) was Sabrina coming to terms with the death of her father and being able to let go and accept her mother’s happiness. I saw the Sabrina character as one that claims to be all liberal and understanding, but was very much conservative. She says she has no hatred of gay people, but when it was in her own home  and her own mother, she becomes a bit more judgmental towards that lifestyle. Having her arch of being more tolerant and acceptable would have been a great thing. The tension I feel would have been earned instead of just throwing in the usual staple of someone having a drunken one night stand.

This is the first feature film that both Madelyn Dutch wrote and Lea Thompson directed and they do a fantastic job. I would love to see what this young writer can do under another director’s eye. She has a strong way of writing characters, but needs just a little help in developing plot.

The Year of Spectacular Men Review

Movie description: From the Twin Cities Film Festival - The Year of Spectacular Men is about a woman who struggles to navigate the seemingly incessant failures of adulthood, the reality of a substandard dating pool and a debilitating fear of top-sheets, all in between X-Files marathons.

Director(s): Lea Thompson

Actor(s): Alex Boling, Melissa Bolona, Jesse Bradford

Genre: Drama

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