Writer-director Jeff Baena’s latest may center on a bachelor party/boys’ weekend, but don’t expect much in the way of Hangover hijinks.
Instead of celebrating his impending nuptials, the titular Josh (Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch) finds himself reeling after his fiancée commits suicide—on his birthday. When his friends learn that the bachelor party deposit they put down on an Ojai rental house is nonrefundable, they decide to gather there anyway for a weekend that’s part escapist fun, part awkward confrontation of grief.
Each of Josh’s friends have a different idea of what their melancholy bachelor weekend should look like. Straight-laced Adam (Queen of Earth writer-director Alex Ross Perry) wants to devote hours to a complicated co-op board game, all while nursing his own recent breakup. Stoner Ari (Adam Pally) wants to just bro out and take a weed-filled respite from his wife and newborn child. And Eric (Nick Kroll) takes charge as the director of debauchery, inviting along his intense friend Greg (Brett Gelman), an up-for-anything escort (Lauren Weedman), and a pair of strippers. Along the way, the group gains an impromptu member when they meet and befriend the happy-go-lucky Jodi (Jenny Slate) in the local bar, where she’s celebrating her 30th birthday.
You’d think that with such a stacked cast of comedy names—Middleditch! Kroll! Pally! Slate!—Joshy should be a laugh riot. Instead, Baena delivers a quiet and largely plotless dramedy that walks the line between goofy bro comedy and mumblecore drama. Sure, Joshy has its laughs, especially when the gang is just sitting around the house, arguing about which Beatle each of them would be. (“I’m Ringo because I keep it light and I look a little bit like a possum,” Eric says.) But things take a turn for the melodramatic when Josh’s fiancée’s parents unexpectedly arrive at the house to confront him with the soapiest of plot twists. As a result, the emotional aspects of Joshy ring a little false. What could’ve been an affecting meditation on grief and friendship is instead just your average hangout dramedy—fun and occasionally thought-provoking, but a bit unremarkable nonetheless. B-