A Beginner's Guide to Endings Jonathan Sobol

A Beginner's Guide to Endings Jonathan Sobol
Because film is known for cultural performance, featuring glitzy celebrities and emulating the prescribed American dream of financial success and social validation via high profile events, the industry attracts a variety of people with varying agendas. More often than not, those striving to make movies or break into the industry are doing so merely because they want to be a part of something important. The artistic integrity, or merit, of their potential work, or the work of their peers, is incidental and unimportant. This is why so many movies like A Beginner's Guide to Endings exist. As an entity, it's mostly inoffensive and unremarkable, merely reiterating an existing film lexicon of affected posturing in an effort to be embraced by a less discerning audience. Basically, it's smoke, mirrors and a familiar, trendy aesthetic masking an abundance of try-hard superficiality. In premise, this self-described "dark comedy" finds three brothers coping with the news of impending mortality after their father commits suicide and leaves them with some eye-popping news and a few worldly possessions. In response, the three of them (Scott Caan, Jason Jones, Paulo Costanzo) decide to embark upon a series of immature and illogical experiences, hyperbolically checking off their respective, exceedingly pathetic bucket list activities. Some generic shenanigans occur, with the middle-brother winding up in a sticky scenario with a crazed potential wife (Tricia Helfer) and the out-of-shape older brother hopping in a boxing ring, much to his chagrin. Jokes about the lameness of a rental car ― "Are you coaching a girls' softball team or something?" ― reinforce the bland male mentality of it all and Sobol frames things with a Wes Anderson meets Guy Ritchie aesthetic that says, "please like me!" The character arcs and tepid handling of annihilation anxiety are embarrassing at best, which leaves the clumsy, strained, overly familiar comedy to drive the action. It's like the cinematic equivalent of watching a hipster at a party regurgitate news headlines and bad jokes in a desperate attempt to fit in. If Sobol had something ― anything ― to say, his moderate knowledge of the medium might prove beneficial in constructing an argument or narrative template. Included with the DVD are supplements on the "Making of" and the director that mostly discuss how the film was made. They, like the movie, have little to say beyond the obvious. (eOne)