Perhaps the point of the film is to have no point, but it feels like more of a cop out than any real revelation.
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Audience reactions of Bob Byington’s Somebody Up There Must Like Me were evenly split between largely in favor or largely against the film. And it is easy to see why as the film does not aim for any middle ground. You will also either find yourself completely attached to the style or it will be an outright miss. Somebody Up There Must Like Me appears to take whimsical cues straight out of a Wes Anderson playbook, where style often trumps substance, though this film fails to achieve any of the equivalent results.
A recent divorce has sent Max (Keith Poulson), a wisecracking steakhouse waiter, into the dreadful dating scene once again. After one disastrous date, it seems like Max’s luck appears to be completely non-existent. Not only is his dating life miserable, but each one of his customers tends to be on the annoying side, but he handles them effortlessly with his nonchalant attitude. One day while chatting with a fellow co-worker Sal (Nick Offerman), a female co-worker named Lyla (Jess Weixler) greets Max as if they have never spoken before despite the fact she has worked there for three years.
Lyla’s quirky personality is shown right away with her addiction that has her constantly eating the restaurant’s breadsticks. Her character has a tendency of being rather clueless which meshes right off the bat with Max’s aimless outlook on life. Equally is fast as their decision to go on their fast date is their decision to get married. The film then begins to skip along in five-year increments which spans a few decades in total. Many things do change over these years but his demeanor and physical appearance never do.
Somebody Up There Must Like Me serves up a heavy dose of dry humor mixed with nonsensical characters. One example of this is that Lyla has a very nice working vehicle parked in her driveway, yet takes the bus to work every day without explaining why. The film is also filled with non-traditional components that adds some rather unique style. When Max asks Lyla if she has received a raise she mishears him say “raisins” and the word is then shown as a subtitle on the screen. There is an overall theme of miscommunication found throughout, but the choice use of the subtitle in this scene suggests that the director is intentionally showing miscommunication to the audience in a satire manner.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a film that takes a totally out of the ordinary approach. In fact, more often than not I actually prefer those types of films. However, there should be at least a sliver of a reason beyond being weird simply for weirdness sake. Somebody Up There Must Like Me reminds me of films like Quentin Dupieux’s Wrong, in which the absurdity is so deliberate that it diminishes the creativity it strives to achieve. Because the film itself seemed to follow the same aimless path of its characters, no real attachment can be made to any of its characters. Motivations in the film are not made very clear which leaves one to question the meaning of the entire film. Perhaps the point of the film is to have no point, but it feels like more of a cop out than any real revelation.