Tag Archives: Jake Lacy


Being the Ricardos

by Hope Madden

Nicole Kidman does not look like Lucille Ball. Javier Bardem does not look like Desi Arnaz. You’ll forget that not long into Being the Ricardos, a change of pace for writer/director Aaron Sorkin.

Sorkin’s biopic shadows the couple through one particularly tumultuous week in their lives as a married couple as well as TV superstars.

Kidman has the voice, the attitude, and the wearied wit to bring Lucille Ball to life. Her brittle, believable turn grapples with the pressures of being Hollywood’s most bankable comic genius. Lucille Ball was the biggest TV star on earth, a massive moneymaking machine whose eye for physical comedy and ear for lazy comic riffs elevated content and deflated co-stars and co-workers. Kidman plays a boss pretending not to be the boss and bristling at the compromise.

Those populating the soundstage and writers room around her — Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat and a bland Jake Lacy — create a fractured work dynamic looking to collapse under this particular week’s unprecedented pressure due to a leaked news story about Lucy.

Besides Kidman, the two big standouts are not surprising. JK Simmons, who’s never turned in an unremarkable performance in his life, wrestles with a character who would be easy to dismiss or despise. In the veteran’s hands, though, William Frawley (I Love Lucy’s Fred Mertz) is the tender, well-meaning if wrong-headed voice of the times.

Bardem oozes charm, charisma and aptitude as Ball’s under-regarded husband. Vanity and vulnerability roil quietly, almost out of sight, and Bardem’s chemistry with Kidman sparkles.

Being the Ricardos is not funny, and it’s hard to fathom a film about Ball that isn’t at least incidentally funny. But let’s be honest, comedy is not really Sorkin’s bag. The way he looks at success, particularly for a woman at this time period, is as smart as anything he’s done.

Sorkin reins in his characteristic rat-a-tat-tat hyper-intellectual dialog just enough to let characters be human. Their on-screen personas meet their off-screen realities in a way that allows a firmly remarkable cast to deliver twice the goods.



Obvious Child

by George Wolf


Obvious Child is at times funny, crude, poignant, sad and awkward- kinda like life. And through it all, it is a film that feels honest – so much so that it’s hard to believe the lead actor didn’t also write the screenplay.

Writer/director Gillian Robespierre expands her 2009 short film and again casts Jenny Slate as Donna, a twenty-something bookstore clerk who does standup comedy by night. After her boyfriend takes her to dumpsville, Donna rebounds by hooking up with preppy Max (Jake Lacy)…only to find herself knocked up by preppy Max.

To paint this film as the “abortion rom-com” is both understandable and unfair. While the comedic approach it takes to such a polarizing issue all but guarantees a controversial label, Obvious Child is far from single-minded.

Robespierre brings a refreshingly casual frankness to a collection of life snapshots, all echoing with authenticity. There’s no pretense or judgement, and only a hint of the self-absorption that often plagues similar dramadies (yes, Girls).

And the neurotic thread running through it all is the strange compulsion to unburden the soul for perfect strangers in a comedy club.

Slate (Kroll Show/Parks and Recreation/SNL) is letter-perfect as a woman whose brutally personal comedy routines seem to be her only outlet for confronting anything personal in her life. The situation with Max becomes her wake-up call.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Robespierre transforms a 23 minute short film into a nearly 90 minute feature without tacking on superfluous filler. It all works, from Donna’s relationship with her parents (Polly Draper, Richard Kind) to the support from her loyal best friend (Gaby Hoffman).

Obvious Child delights in exploring roads that are rarely traveled in romantic comedies – but don’t expect a parody. As Jimmy Buffett has often said about his song Why Don’t We Get Drunk (and Screw), this is a love story…from a different point of view.