Joshy (Sundance Review)
For a film loaded with many laughs, it’s strange that Joshy begins on quite the morbid note. Joshy (Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch) arrives home one day to find his fiancé (Alison Brie) lifeless on the floor, dead from an apparent suicide. But the film doesn’t dwell on her death for very long, instead jumping ahead four months when Joshy’s small crew of friends (Nick Kroll, Adam Pally, Alex Ross Perry, and Brett Gelman) elect to celebrate his bachelor party, just as they had intended before the incident occurred. When the boys arrive at their secluded cabin for the party, they discover Joshy saying goodbye to a girl he picked up from the local bar—a rather uncharacteristic move and one that isn’t ever addressed again. Other than this small inexplicable moment, the rest of the film plays out as a hysterical weekend bender of heavy drinking, drug consumption, and partying with hookers. In theory it’s a classic recipe for a “what could possibly go wrong?” scenario, but, oddly enough, the answer in Joshy is nothing.
Credit the amazing cast for making Joshy work as well as it does. Without them, it’s just another hangout movie with a paper-thin plot and very little character development. Granted, simply putting these hilarious actors together in a room would make for entertainment. Each character’s personality puzzle-pieces into the group as a whole. Kroll is the partier. Pally is the sensitive married guy. Perry is the geek. Gelman is the wildcard. And then there’s Middleditch, who’s stuck playing the uninteresting title character—ironically, the least developed of the bunch. There’s also a random appearance by Joe Swanberg (and his real family), who seem only to show up to get a few laughs.
Luckily, there’s enough humor found in sophomore director Jeff Baena’s (Life After Beth) film that it’s easy to forgive some of the off moments. The highlight of Joshy is watching Perry finally getting his wish to play a complicated board game with the group. That’s right, this ensemble even finds a way to make the struggle to play a board game amusing to watch.