Somebody Up There Likes Me | Movie review
…but Bob Byington doesn’t like you.
Synecdoche, New York as a precocious high schooler might imagine it, Austin director Bob Byington’s arch examination of What It All Means flashes through more than three decades in the life of Max (Keith Poulson), to the extent that it’s possible to do so in 76 minutes. Shaggy-haired and perpetually bemused, Max might charitably be described as unflappable; even catching his barely-ex-wife in bed with another man fails to shake his chronic case of the whatevs. “Marry the next girl you see,” advises ’90s indie mainstay Kevin Corrigan in a cameo. “It makes no difference.”
That attitude of smug resignation pervades every scene. Soon after, Max weds a breadstick-hoarding coworker (Jess Weixler) who sometimes speaks in malapropisms. (The film is rife with them, as when Nick Offerman’s asshole best friend confuses hypothetical, hypocritical and the Hippocratic Oath.) Max cheats and is cheated on. A suicide and an untimely death are treated as punch lines. The main actors never age, but that—like most other budget-driven inconsistencies in the film—is something we’re meant to smirk at. The repetitive score keeps hitting a sad-trumpet noise. There’s talent here, but the goal seems to be proving that everyone involved is too cool to make an actual movie.