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.