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Film Review: ‘Just Before I Go’

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

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

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: <strong>90 MIN.</strong>

  • 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.
  • Music By: