Starring Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi, Brooklyn Decker, Anthony Michael Hall, Tishuan Scott, Zoe Graham, David Bernon, Lindsay Anne Kent and Elizabeth Berridge.
Screenplay by Andrew Bujalski.
Directed by Andrew Bujalski.
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures. 105 minutes. Rated R.
There is a lot to like in writer/director Andrew Bujalski’s low-key romantic comedy / drama about physical fitness trainers coming to terms with life and love – so why did sitting through Results feel being forced to do 500 sit-ups, 200 push-ups and 100 squat thrusts?
First off, I love the two lead actors and they do wonderful work here, even if their characters are in serious need of personality transplants. The writing is mostly subtle and low-key and smart. It explores a world we rarely get to see on film. Writer/director Bujalski has an astute visual sense.
And yet, watching Results felt like doing hard time.
Bujalski is a notably low-keyed, observant filmmaker, bunched in upon earlier films like 2013’s Computer Chess or 2002’s Funny Ha Ha as part of the mumblecore scene. However, his filmwork has been intriguingly realistic and insightful.
Results is his first movie in which he works with name actors. LA Confidential and Memento‘s Guy Pearce and How I Met Your Mother and The Avengers’ Cobie Smulders are the two leads. Respected character actor Kevin Corrigan also gets a lead role here, and names like Anthony Michael Hall, Giovanni Ribisi, Constance Zimmer, Elizabeth Berridge and model Brooklyn Decker take on small roles.
Pearce plays way against type as Trevor, an 50-ish immigrant bodybuilder who has opened a popular gym called Power 4 Life in the suburbs of Austin, Texas. Trevor strongly believes in his personal life game plan – wanting to create a nirvana for fitness enthusiasts, a workout superstore which reflects his personal philosophy for personal health and wellness. He strongly, passionately believes in his ideals, but unfortunately he has a bit of trouble verbalizing them, coming off as a salesman or a new age rube when he tries to explain his plan.
Smulders plays Kat, his most popular trainer, who is even more cynical than Trevor is idealistic. Kat also has a huge chip on her shoulder, a burning anger in her core and a sense of drifting as she approaches 30. She is beautiful but not concerned with looks. She is also way too invested in her job. She takes it personally if someone is late with a payment or decides to give up… to quit… their exercise regime. She and Trevor have occasionally fallen into purely aerobic sexual relationship, but both of them are determined to keep things casual.
Into their structured little world blunders Danny (Corrigan), who is a wreck emotionally and physically. He has recently gone through a painful divorce (apparently more painful for him than for her) and soon after gets the unexpected windfall of a huge inheritance. Now he suddenly has no need to work and no wife to go home to, so he mopes around looking for a purpose, living in a brand new McMansion with little furniture, trying literally to buy happiness.
On a whim he decides he wants to train – when Trevor asks him what his goal is, Danny can only come up with the idea that he would like to be able to take a punch. Kat bullies Trevor and the other instructors to become Danny’s coach, but when Danny’s interest in Kat strays from working out to more romantic thoughts, she melts down and totally rethinks her life, quitting the gym.
Honestly, Corrigan plays the role in such an oddball way that I can’t quite decide if it is a brilliant take on the character or merely mannered overacting; squinting, grimacing and slouching his way through life, speaking with the deadened slowness of someone having trouble comprehending what is being said to him, a hang dog assurance that no matter what the circumstance and how much money he has, life is going to kick him in the ass.
And the fact that Corrigan’s character only seems like the second most cartoonish character in Results – we’re looking at you, Anthony Michael Hall, for your cameo as a Russian weightlifter who makes Dolph Lundgren look subtly thoughtful – makes the movie’s motivations and choices puzzling and sad.
Honestly, I’m not sure what Bujalski is trying to say with Results and I rather expect that he doesn’t know either. Just the basic thrust of the storyline changes quite a few times during the running time. Is it an Altman-esque satire of the physical fitness industry? An oddball buddy comedy? A serious look at the American dream of business success? A will-they-or-won’t-they romance between two characters who are both gorgeous but have absolutely no chemistry together?
Beats me. Just trying to figure it out is making my head hurt.
The one thing that it is – and this is something that the quirky Bujalski has never been before – is formula storytelling, with a climax that just sort of peters out. I suppose I can’t begrudge Bujalski the opportunity to try to sell out for a wider audience, but if you’re going to wallow, just do it. You can’t just dip a toe in and expect anyone to be impressed.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 29, 2015.