Careless Peter Spears

As a capricious and decidedly dry comedy of a well-intentioned but spurious nature, Careless plods forward with a sense of humour that seems like it should be far more amusing than it actually is. The direction is consciously straightforward, as are the deadpan performances from each actor while zaniness and peculiarity surround them. It’s a tactic that has been used successfully by considerably more seasoned auteurs such as the Coen Brothers and Barry Levinson, but less successfully by many others who find their films floundering straight onto DVD shelves without promotion. Careless finds itself lumped into the latter category despite having a decent script and featuring respectable performances from a cast that thankfully doesn’t reach for humour out of desperation and misguidance. The film follows Wiley Roth (Colin Hanks), a bored and somewhat despondent college graduate who works at a bookstore, who’s trying to discover the owner of a severed finger he randomly finds on his kitchen floor. Seeking help from his more grounded and laidback best friend (Fran Kranz) and his television-obsessed father (Tony Shalhoub), Wiley stumbles across a beautiful young woman named Cheryl (Rachel Blanchard), who just happens to be missing a finger. Afraid to outright ask her how she lost her digit, Wiley goes on a journey that involves taxidermists, depressed police officers, severed raccoon heads, hostile crossing guards and a stinky, decomposing finger. The comedy stems mostly from bizarre juxtapositions and wordplay, which is refreshing considering the wide array of comedies of late that rely on poop and boobies. It’s just a shame that each sequence is framed with the same bland and prosaic direction, giving little framework or insight for the audience to identify and connect with on a comic level. Subtextual insights about the nature of love, rejection and trust are minimal and familiar. Only a trailer is included on the DVD, as far as special features go, leaving the mediocre film itself as the selling point. (Seville)