Joshy Jeff Baena

Joshy Jeff Baena
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
6
The convergence of mumblecore aesthetics and bro machismo has been a long time coming. The League, after all, might be a television show about the boys ditching their wives and plotting a fantasy football league, but it also co-stars main mumble man Mark Duplass in a key role. His League co-star Nick Kroll has been flirting with indie comedies since ditching Kroll Show (making a misstep with 2014's Adult Beginners), and now he's gone the buddy reunion route with the new film Joshy.

The film marks the second feature from Jeff Baena (Life After Beth). Its titular Joshy is played by Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) who's set to marry Rachel (Alison Brie) before tragedy strikes and the wedding is cancelled. Turns out the groomsmen can't get their deposit back on a cabin they rented for Joshy's bachelor party, however, so they decide to bro down with the boys for a boys weekend, bro.

There's no denying that Baena has assembled a truly remarkable cast, and they all turn in solid performances. Alongside Kroll and Middleditch, the film co-stars Adam Pally, Brett Gelman and Jenny Slate. Keeping things well within the indie zone, the film also features a stand-out turn from director Alex Ross Perry, who shines as a paranoid wet blanket hell-bent on ruining fun. Then there are underused cameos from Lauren Graham, Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and, to further remind you that this is indie as fuck, director Joe Swanberg.

There's a lot to like about Joshy, as the film boasts plenty of excellent comedic moments from its jovial, likeable players. Unfortunately, however, the film's potential is ultimately squandered due to its uneven tone. Occasionally there are drug-and-booze fuelled frat bro antics, lending the film a sort of indie Hangover vibe, but then it becomes a loose romantic comedy for a beat or two. Neither of those moods really mesh with the film's washed-out cinematography, which looks more like a millennial car commercial.

Ostensibly, it's a film about dudes deflecting their emotions ("It's not okay to be sad!" screams Gelman's wild card character Greg), but the characters only seem to achieve any self-realization because it's time for the film to wrap up.

Neither outrageous enough to be a raunchy new party comedy nor emotionally developed enough to work as a compelling indie dramedy, Joshy is entirely unfocused. Still, its cast is an assemblage of some of the best working comedic actors, and for that reason alone it might be worth your time.