This will be the first of several reviews from this year’s Tribeca film Festival. To follow our coverage, click here.
Synopsis: Nice-guy Fred rarely gets through the day without falling to the ground with crippling back and neck pain. To top it off, Fred is not taken seriously by anyone, and a smarmy younger partner threatens his job of 25 years at his own father’s law firm. But, when the beautiful Regan comes in looking for a divorce lawyer, the two quickly form a bond. As Fred finally begins to find relief for both his chronic pain and his persistent loneliness, he wonders if his problems are more psychological than physical. (Tribeca)
Starring: Paul Lieberstein, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Clark Duke
Writer: Paul Lieberstein
Director: Paul Lieberstein
Running Time: 85mins
Oddball character comedies are a dime a dozen so here’s another one. Whether or not they succeed depends on the likability and relatability of said oddball characters. The subject of this film, a man named Fred (Lieberstein), was easy to relate to, being the consummate underdog who also happened to suffer from debilitating neck and back pain (and more) from which the film got its name.
What could have easily been a gimmick was actually utilized in a very funny and endearing way with the film’s opening sequence being the standout. Fred was fun to watch and easy to root for as he awkwardly navigated through interactions. Things were starting to change for him after falling for one of his latest clients, a woman named Regan (DeWitt). He and Regan quickly formed a bond as she helped him find the root of his pain and was the only one who seemed to understand him.
The best part of the film was Lieberstein, both in front of and behind the camera. His charming performance as Fred was full of heart and his physical bits were hilarious. His script was not only funny but was full of touching moments as well.
Overall, this was an excellent comedy that was both hilarious and touching and won’t wear out its welcome thanks to its smart script and an endearing performance by Paul Lieberstein.