You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Somebody Up There Likes Me

Something stops Max from aging in "Somebody Up There Likes Me," a droll, low-budget comedy that never comments on the fact that its lead character remains roughly 28 for his entire life.

With: Keith Poulson, Nick Offerman, Jess Weixler, Stephanie Hunt, Marshall Bell, Jonathan Togo, Kate Lyn Sheil, Kevin Corrigan, Megan Mullally.

Something stops Max from aging in “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” a droll, low-budget comedy that never comments on the fact that its lead character remains roughly 28 for his entire life. Perhaps Austin-based writer-director Bob Byington intends for Max to serve as a cautionary model for man-children everywhere, warning of the dissatisfactions that await those who never grow up, though actor Keith Poulson already looks a decade older than Max’s maturity level, while its callow tone fails to articulate what this stunted hero is missing. After a lap of fest play, the youth-oriented pic will settle into streaming obscurity.

Told in a series of discrete, disconnected scenes that occasionally leap five years forward in time, Max’s life can be summarized by the scowl that pulls Poulson’s face into an expression of permanent dissatisfaction. With his stooped shoulders and slack jaw, Max could be the poster-boy for a generation of disengaged young men who hold somebody else — their parents, partners or possibly society at large — responsible for their own happiness or lack of same.

Those closer to Max’s age at the film’s outset will likely find something in the character to identify with, even it’s just the fact that he makes them laugh. Max has a smart-alecky comeback for nearly every occasion, which keeps the conversation crackling, but serves as a barrier between him and normal human connection. It’s hard to care about others when you’re constantly undermining everything they say.

Early on, Max returns from a trip to find his wife (Kate Lyn Sheil) in bed with another man. He shrugs and moves on, hastily marrying Lyla (Jess Weixler), a waitress at the restaurant where he works. She is passionate about breadsticks, he is passionate about nothing, and so they proceed, hoping it will all work out.

Five years later, the couple has a son, Lyle. Max still works at the steakhouse with best friend Sal (Nick Offerman, wryly hilarious), though he’s soon to inherit a fortune from his surly father-in-law (Marshall Bell). Max seems about as committed to his marriage as he is to his job, all but rolling his eyes during a couples counseling session (featuring a cameo from Megan Mullally as their therapist) and eventually cheating with the first flirty girl (Stephanie Hunt) who crosses his path. As the soundtrack frequently reminds us, he’s a fool for love (the Sandy Rogers song practically serves as Max’s anthem).

With bemusing vignettes stacked one after the other and no clear plot to drive the action, it’s hard to distinguish between a normal scene break and one of the film’s many flash-forwards. Faced with more than three decades of ground to cover, Byington provides few clues to the passage of time, apart from the occasional animated intertitle and a trick by which a series of different actors play Lyle, while the kid’s wardrobe remains constant.

Whatever is keeping Max young is kept in a blue suitcase stowed in the trunk of his car. Every so often, he opens the case and basks in its glow, while those around him age normally — or as well as the pic’s limited makeup effects can disguise the ensemble’s underlying youth.

Byington (“Harmony and Me”) wants this magic device to remain ambiguous, though it’s mostly just unclear, having little impact on Max or the other characters. Consciously or not, the vast majority of auds watch movies expecting to see characters tested by adversity, but a hero like Max — one who defies time and continues to repeat the same mistakes throughout life — betrays the fundamental concept of a personal arc. Nothing seems to faze him. If nonchalance were an Olympic sport, Max would be a gold medalist, and watching “Somebody Up There Likes Me” is about as much fun as being a spectator at that event might sound.

Somebody Up There Likes Me

Production: A Faliro Hous and M-13 Pictures presentation. Produced by Hans Graffunder, Nick Offerman. Executive producers, Stuart Bohart, Morgan Coy, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Brenda Mitchell. Directed, written by Bob Byington.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Sean Price Williams; editors, Frank V. Ross, Stephen Gurewitz; music, Chris Baio; music supervisor, Lauren Marie Mikus; production designer, George Dishner; art director, Leila Dallal; costume designers, Kim H. Ngo, Lily Walker; animation, Bob Sabiston; sound, Greg Armstrong; re-recording mixer, Lyman Hardy; associate producer, Seana Flanagan. Reviewed on Blu-ray, March 24, 2012. (In SXSW, San Francisco film festivals.) Running time: 75 MIN.

With: With: Keith Poulson, Nick Offerman, Jess Weixler, Stephanie Hunt, Marshall Bell, Jonathan Togo, Kate Lyn Sheil, Kevin Corrigan, Megan Mullally.

More Film

  • Orange Studio, OCS Join Forces on

    Orange Studio, OCS Join Forces on Flurry of High-Profile Series

    Following “The Name of the Rose”(pictured) and “Devils,” France’s Orange has unveiled four internationally-driven series projects as part of its commitment to step into premium original shows with its film/TV division Orange Studio and pay TV group OCS both of board. Currently in development, the social western “Cheyenne & Lola,” the dance-filled workplace drama “The [...]

  • 'This Isn’t Spinal Tap': Dishing the

    'This Isn’t Spinal Tap': Dishing the Dirt on Motley Crue's Surprisingly Dark Biopic

    The new, eagerly awaited Motley Crue biopic, based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling 2001 book, “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band,” premieres today on Netflix after a seemingly endless 13 years in development hell. Those anticipating “a fun ‘80s music movie,” as Crue bassist Nikki Sixx puts it, will inevitably be stunned [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: Jordan Peele's 'Us' Nabs $7.4 Million on Thursday Night

    Jordan Peele’s horror-thriller “Us” opened huge with $7.4 million on Thursday night. The figure easily topped Thursday preview numbers for “The Nun” at $5.4 million and “A Quiet Place” at $4.3 million. Projections for “Us,” Peele’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2017’s “Get Out,” have been in the $38 million to $45 million range for the weekend as [...]

  • Beatriz Bodegas on Netflix Original: ‘Who

    ‘Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?’ Producer on New Spanish Netflix Original

    BARCELONA – “Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?” is the second directorial outing from Spain’s Jota Linares (“Animales sin collar”) a Netflix Original premiering on Friday, March 22 in competition at the Malaga Spanish Language Film Festival. Starring María Pedraza, Jaime Lorente, Pol Monen and Andrea Ros, the film is the movie adaptation [...]

  • Beijing Festival Unveils 'Mad Max,' 'Bourne'

    Beijing Festival Unveils 'Mad Max,' 'Bourne,' Kurosawa Screening Series

    The upcoming Beijing International Film Festival will give space to high-profile Hollywood franchise movies with screenings of all films in both the “Mad Max” and “Bourne Identity” series. Classic Hollywood fare will also feature prominently in a lineup that, as usual, features an eclectic grab-bag of titles. The local government-backed festival opens April 13 and [...]

  • J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church

    SXSW Film Review: 'J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius'

    Like 8mm films of 1960s “happenings” or videos of 1970s performance art, “J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius” chronicles a cultural footnote that perhaps should be filed under the heading You Had to Be There. The satirical-absurdist “religion” founded by some Texans actually caught fire among hipsters in the 1980s, influencing some [...]

  • 'Roll Red Roll' Review: Piercing Documentary

    Film Review: 'Roll Red Roll'

    “Roll Red Roll” is a piercingly relevant and disturbing documentary about an infamous high school rape case that took place in Steubenville, Ohio (pop. 18,600), on Aug. 11, 2012. Steubenville, the sort of Friday-night-lights small town that boasts signs that read “Kick off for Jesus,” is a place that’s good at keeping secrets. When the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content