Film Review: ‘Just Before I Go’

Seann William Scott Just Before I
Image Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

The less said about Courteney Cox's directing debut, the better.

The end can’t come soon enough in “Just Before I Go,” a dismal, tonally disastrous small-town farce in which one man’s death wish becomes the occasion for a feature-length group therapy session. Aiming for a seriocomic examination of mid-life regrets and missed opportunities, Courtney Cox’s directing debut falls back on fat jokes, erection sight gags and other vulgar asides to offset a succession of teachable moments involving homosexuality, bullying, depression, abandonment and Down syndrome. Despite a much better cast than the material warrants, this Anchor Bay release (opening almost a year after its premiere at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival) is already on its way to a watery grave.

At the age of 41, divorced pet-store owner Ted Morgan (Seann William Scott) has decided to kill himself, but not before returning to his hometown and settling accounts with every jerk who ever crossed his path — like his antagonistic seventh-grade teacher (Beth Grant), now all but comatose, or a high-school bully who’s grown up to be an unusually sensitive meathead (Rob Riggle). As Ted comes to the shocking realization that he’s not the only one with issues, aided by a perky love interest (Olivia Thirlby) who insists on capturing his suicidal journey on video, Dave Flebotte’s script serves up a parallel coming-out drama involving Ted’s sensitive, penis-sketching nephew, Zeke (Kyle Gallner). Zeke’s story might well have made a watchable movie on its own — but not here, where it has to compete with Mom’s sleepwalking-masturbation habit and Grandma’s Elvis-impersonating lesbian partner. Dull and tamped down throughout, Scott convinces well enough as a guy who wants be put out of his misery, and there isn’t an actor here who doesn’t look ready to join him.

Film Review: 'Just Before I Go'

Reviewed online, Pasadena, Calif., April 26, 2015. (In 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.) Running time: 90 MIN.

Production

A Starz release of a Coquette presentation of a Coquette/New Artists Alliance production. Produced by Courteney Cox, Gabriel Cowan, Thea Mann. Executive producers, John C. Rhee, Alexandria Jackson, David Arquette, John Suits.

Crew

Directed by Courteney Cox. Screenplay, Dave Flebotte. Camera (color, widescreen), Mark Schwartzbard; editor, Roger Bondelli; music, Erran Baron Cohen; production designer, Shannon Kemp; set decorator, Caity Birmingham; costume designer, Chris Kristoff; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), Dennis Grzesik; supervising sound editor/sound designer, Casey Genton; re-recording mixers, Ryan Collins, Genton; special effects coordinator, Ron Nary; visual effects supervisors, Mark Dippe, Seungyoung Lee; visual effects producer, Les Hunter; visual effects, Hammerhead Prods.; stunt coordinator, Brian Avery; line producer, Tara L. Craig; assistant director, Courtney Rowe; casting, Lauren Grey.

With

Seann William Scott, Olivia Thirlby, Garret Dillahunt, Kate Walsh, Kyle Gallner, Evan Ross, Rob Riggle, Mackenzie Marsh, Missi Pyle, Connie Stevens, David Arquette, Elisha Cuthbert, Beth Grant.

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  1. ike says:

    i liked this movie very much

  2. I thought this movie was fairly good. And some of it made me keel over laughing. I’ll never be able to watch someone play a banjo again without giggling. The movie manage to deal with some pretty heavy issues without being a downer nor making anybody out to be irredeemably evil nor supernaturally good. Everybody was flawed… and redeemable. I like the way it didn’t write people off, even when they did horrible things. And the lack of PC was just right and hilariously done.

    Cox deserves better credit than she got for this. It was actually fairly nuanced in its sensitivities without being too preachy.

    • Tim says:

      I couldn’t of said it better. Perhaps Justin should stick to reviewing take out Chinese instead of reviewing movies he couldn’t possibly understand or appreciate.

  3. Ryan Bradley says:

    First off, and foremost, the failed directors and unwanted producers will definitely have something bad to say about this movie, because hey, who hates success more than those who don’t have it. That being said, this movie deals with some real world issues and albeit in a raunchy way it’s the way that most people can connect with, and some people have dealt with. Give it a shot, if it’s one in the dark then fine, but you’ll only be disappointed if you happen to be a pretentious ass.

  4. Cliff Ruiz says:

    I laughed so hard I almost pissed my pants at the “retard” scene…. Oh my God! ih…it was under too long, he’s fucking retarded now!!!!

  5. The critics missed the mark with this film. Just Before I Go is one of the few films in a very long time that makes me want to shout from the mountain tops, “go see this movie!”

    I laughed hard, I cried, I felt better about my life after watching this film.

    I would say that I don’t understand how critics managed not to recognize what I saw when I watched this movie, but that’d be a lie. Critics write with all the purity and singularity of voice of your average beauty pageant contestant. When they sit down to write their review their inner narrator is already sizing up how their review will be received by their peers and readers. I guess what I’m saying is, how surprised should we really be when people who make it their work to talk about other people’s work don’t have anything original to say? If they had something to say, they wouldn’t be critics, they’d be artists.

    Just Before I Go- I predict it will gets its due via a cult following very soon. A truly beautiful, hilarious, touching, and, dare I say, important film.

  6. Nigel Leitch says:

    “but not before returning to his hometown and settling accounts with every jerk who ever crossed his path” Did you even watch the film? The script of the film is very funny and the acting is very good, at least try and be factual in your reviews or try to watch the film first.

  7. Must rank as Variety shortest review.

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