×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Me Him Her’

What Max Landis' sexual orientation-bending directorial debut lacks in style, it makes up for in self-absorption.

With:
Luke Bracey, Dustin Milligan, Emily Meade, Angela Sarafyan, Scott Bakula, Alia Shawkat, Jake McDorman, Rebecca Drysdale, Casey Wilson, Kyle Bornheimer, Miles Fisher, Chris Hardwick, Frank Capello, Geena Davis.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2507238/

There’s entirely too much “Me” in “Me Him Her,” an abrasively un-romantic non-comedy that second-generation Hollywood screenwriter Max Landis (best known for “Chronicle” and “American Ultra,” but invariably judged by his last name) claims was so personal, he simply had to direct it himself. Though the title makes Landis’ Los Angeles-set debut out to be some kind of stock love triangle, its interpersonal geometry proves to be infinitely more complicated, centering on a narcissist with no clue how to handle either his gay best friend or the lesbian he thinks he’s in love with, building up to (what else?) an epic sword fight at a chic Hollywood after-party.

Like Landis’ more commercial-minded scripts, “Me Him Her” displays a downright incongruous mix of sincerity and sarcasm: A child of the VCR generation, Landis uses crazily unrealistic, movie-recycled plots as a pretext for telling it like it is (or at least, as he believes life to be), chocolate-dunking and then candy-coating astute little observational razor blades with borderline-inane, sitcom-stale cliches. Here, he offers a glimpse behind the scenes of Hollywood, serving up such personalities as a wannabe actress who rehearses her breakup speech in advance and a shallow B-list celeb grappling with how to come out.

It’s hard to take such characters seriously, compounded by the fact that Landis puts his eponymous “Me,” a wacky colorful-shirt-wearing loudmouth named Cory (Dustin Milligan), on the toilet when his old college buddy — and rising TV star — Brendan (Luke Bracey) calls to share the news that he’s gay. Shot differently, the inappropriate setting might have earned a laugh instead of a wince, but Landis consistently struggles to make his (admittedly) funny ideas land, botching the timing and/or placement of gags throughout, from the random collection of L.A. vignettes that background the opening credits to the sequence of sketches crammed into the final crawl.

At any rate, Brendan is distressed. The new season of his “Hard Justice” cop show is about to air, and he’s being positioned as the “straight arrow” opposite Haley Joel Osment’s “twisted mind” (a label that evidently applies both on screen and off, judging by a self-effacing cameo that milks the former child star’s participation for every drop). He’s pretty sure he’s gay based on — wait for it — the fact that a publicist for the show smooched him on set. Meanwhile, everyone else (including missed-opportunity screen parents Scott Bakula and Geena Davis) seems to know. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Brendan objects in a running joke that, par for the course, wasn’t funny the first time.

In this day and age, when celebs are outed for picking up transgender prostitutes along Santa Monica Boulevard (spinnable) or selling their services while dressed in stilettos (a bit trickier to explain), Brendan’s dilemma seems downright quaint. If there really were a Hollywood actor so naive about his own orientation today, he wouldn’t have to settle for second billing to Osment, but could get his own reality series. But never mind. Since Brendan evidently has no friends in L.A., he offers to fly Cory out to counsel his coming out.

The plan backfires big-time when Cory insists that Brendan go to the nearest gay bar and assume his identity. Once there, Cory ditches his friend and proceeds to hit on the nearest lesbian, the freshly dumped and therefore ultra-vulnerable Gabbi (Emily Meade). While the paparazzi mob Brendan, Cory tries to put the moves on Gabbi, making sweet, sweet love in the back of her Geo Metro. Rather than apologize, he steers Brendan into the center of a West Hollywood pride parade.

To those who might object that Landis doesn’t understand lesbians, the filmmaker would surely argue that lesbians (and indeed, all humans) don’t understand themselves. Depicting the subject of sexual orientation with a fluidity rarely seen since “Gigli,” “Me Him Her” is to be commended for recognizing that such identities can’t always be reduced to binary labels. But it’s one thing to present characters who question their own identities, and quite another to ask that audiences identify with the goofy straight guy who hopes to lure a lesbian to his team.

A decade earlier, such a project would have been pegged a “gay film,” touring LGBTQ festivals before being distributed by TLA or Wolfe Video, and though such categories have relaxed somewhat, this essentially straight-to-VOD release (twinned with tiny New York and L.A. openings) remains strictly niche. Its greatest asset is the against-type casting of “90210” pretty boy Milligan, playing some cross between Landis and wild-and-crazy comedian T.J. Miller — both unfiltered, high-energy dudes with disruptive personalities. A mopey doll-faced blonde who barely enunciates her dialogue, Meade is a pleasantly non-obvious choice for the role of Gabbi (while Alia Shawkat and Rebecca Drysdale play the cliche more clearly as her Sapphic gal pals).

At first, Brendan appears to be the film’s biggest egoist, assuming that by paying Cory’s airfare, he could count on his friend to re-engineer his persona. But as Cory proceeds to monopolize the film, Brendan edges to the margins, and Landis’ manufactured absurdity becomes increasingly difficult to endure — around the time Gabbi hallucinates being attacked by a giant penis. “This is Los Angeles. The line between dreams and reality is thinner here,” Brendan explains at one point, but it’s not enough to justify the hallucinatory flourishes, much less the tone of oppressive self-absorption. By the time the film’s climactic sword fight erupts, “Me Him Her” might is starting to sound too much like “Me Me Me.”

Film Review: 'Me Him Her'

Reviewed online, March 10, 2016. (In Seattle Film Festival.) Running time: 98 MIN.

Production: A FilmBuff release of a Big Beach presentation and production. Produced by Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf. Executive producers, Darren Demetre, Leah Holzer.

Crew: Directed, written by Max Landis. Camera (color), Ross Riege; editor, Joe Landauer; music, Andrew Dost; music supervisors, Jackie Mulhearn, Susan Jacobs; production designer, Katie Bryon; art director, Alexi Gomez; costume designer, Lynette Meyer; sound, Steve Cantamessa; supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer, Lewis Goldstein; visual effects supervisor, Nick Lund-Ulrich; visual effects, Scoundrel VFX; special effects coordinator, Jeremy Hays; stunt coordinator, Kurt Bryant; sword fight choreographer, David Morizot; associate producer, Daniele Tate Melia; assistant director, John McKeown, James Grayford; casting, Jeanne McCarthy, Nicole Abellera.

With: Luke Bracey, Dustin Milligan, Emily Meade, Angela Sarafyan, Scott Bakula, Alia Shawkat, Jake McDorman, Rebecca Drysdale, Casey Wilson, Kyle Bornheimer, Miles Fisher, Chris Hardwick, Frank Capello, Geena Davis.

More Film

  • Cannes’ Focus CoPro’ Gives Push for

    Cannes’ Focus CoPro’ Gives Push for First-Time Features

    CANNES–Seven first-feature projects will be pitched to an audience of industry professionals at Focus CoPro’, an event hosted by Cannes’ Short Film Corner that will take place Tuesday May 21 at the Palais des Festivals. The pitching session, which is run in collaboration with Nisi Masa and the Pop Up Film Residency, was introduced last year [...]

  • Cannes: Star Alliance Movies Takes Wide’s

    Cannes: Star Alliance Movies Takes Wide’s ‘Blast’ for China (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES  —  Hong Kong’s Star Alliance Movies has pounced on all rights to China on “Blast,” a race against the clock thriller that marks the first full production from Wide, Loic Magneron’s Paris-based sales-production-distribution company. The deal, made against a background of slowing sales to China, represents the first pre-sale on “Blast,” which is now [...]

  • Brazil’s Cinemascopio, France’s Les Valseurs Team

    Brazil’s Cinemascopio, France’s Les Valseurs Team For Nara Normande, Tião’s ‘The Heron’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES — Recife-based CinemaScópio Produções and Paris’ Les Valseurs have teamed on “A Garça” (The Heron), the feature debut from Brazil’s Nara Normande, co-authored by Tião. Brazilian CinemaScópio is behind Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles’ Brazilian Western-thriller “Bacurau,” in competition at Cannes. Les Valseurs is also presenting Qiu Yang’s short “She Runs” at Critics’ [...]

  • Portrait of a Young Woman on

    Cannes Film Review: 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

    The title of Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” implies that her subversively seductive film will focus on the subject of its titular painting — an 18th-century woman who refuses to pose, in defiance of the arranged marriage into which she’s being forced — when it’s just as much a portrait of the [...]

  • Colin Firth

    Cannes: Colin Firth WWII Drama 'Operation Mincemeat' Sells Out Internationally (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Operation Mincemeat,” a buzzy World War II drama that stars Colin Firth, has sold out international territories at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Warner Bros. has picked up several key markets, as has Central and Eastern European distributor Prorom. The film reunites Firth with John Madden, his “Shakespeare in Love” director. FilmNation Entertainment and Cross [...]

  • Meikincine Scoops Three Titles at Cannes

    Meikincine Scoops Three More Titles at Cannes Film Market (EXCLUSIVE)

    Lucia and Julia Meik’s boutique sales company Meikincine has announced three acquisitions out of this year’s Cannes Film Market: Gaspar Scheuer’s “Delfin”- which world premiered in the Cannes Écrans Juniors Competition; Marcelo Paez Cubells’ “Which”– part of this year’s Blood Window Showcase for films in progress; Sebastián Mega Díaz’s romantic comedy “The Big Love Picture.” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content