Reviewed by: Harvey Karten, CompuServe Film d-based on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Demetri Martin
Written by: Demetri Martin
Cast: Demetri Martin, Kevin Kline, Gillian Jacobs, Rory Scovel, Christine Woods, Ginger Gonzaga
Screened at: Dolby88, NYC, 5/31/17
Opens: June 2, 2017
According to some psychologists, people often go through levels of anxiety and depression when someone close dies. The death of a spouse is often at the top of the list, the death of a mother closely follows, and even the death of a cat or dog can cause your life to unravel. With “Dean,” Demetri Martin, a Renaissance man in the movie industry in that he directs, wrote, edits, illustrates, and is principal actor (he’s also a stand-up comic who has been on Conan O’Brien’s show), hones in on three people who must come to terms with death. One, Dean (Demetri Martin) copes with the death of his mother, his father Robert (Kevin Kline) with the demise of his wife, and Dean’s best friend Eric (Rory Scovel) loses a beloved cat. Though there is much drama in this heartfelt tale, there is also ample comedy, with young Dean’s resembling young Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate” and much of the entire movie within the sanctified circle of Woody Allen’s masterpiece, “Annie Hall.”
“Dean” has the look of a movie closely based on the writer-director-editor-illustr ator’s life. Demetri, who in real life is in his forties, plays a manchild who, with hair that covers his forehead looks fifteen years younger. He freelances illustrating books and according to his dad Robert (Kevin Kline), will do anything to avoid having a steady job. Dean’s mother recently died, his father unable to come to grips with the loss though intent on selling his large house in Hawthorne, New York to Dean’s dismay. While Robert has put his foot in the dating pool by taking out Carol (Mary Steenburgen), his realtor, Dean goes to L.A. at the invitation of a digital effects company (a disastrous interview). Along the way Dean and his best-friend Eric (Rory Scovel) go to a party where Dean meets Nicky (Gillian Jacobs). Though Nicky may be bi-sexual given her closeness with her friend Jill (Ginger Gonzaga), the two hook up, their relationship a quirky one given that the duo are an awkward, immature fellow and a ditzy female.
“Dean” has the theatrical structure of a main-plot – sub-plot such as you find in Shakespeare’s comedies, with Robert and Carol’s courtship a steadier and more mature one than Dean’s. Both Kevin Kline and Demetri Martin are wholly watchable and with several Woody Allen style gags, awkward moments and pratfalls. Dean falls on his face at a party to Nicky’s amusement; Robert is unable to bring himself to “go up for coffee” while on a date with Carol; Robert and Carol express their enjoyment of a Broadway play, soon admitting that they did not understand it; Dean drops the ring at the wedding of his friend Brett (Reid Scott), all the while protesting that though there are two best men, he is number one.
“Dean” is a pleasure to watch, the mixture of humor and grief credible. We wish the best for Robert and Carol who may be on their way to forming new lives, and for Dean, we hope that he will take a firmer hand at harnessing his talent and communication skills.
Rated PG-13. 93 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
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