THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN: A Family Affair That Doesn’t Quite Mesh
The Year of Spectacular Men might spin its wheels and veer off course, but there’s still some fun to be had by these spectacular women.
I was pretty excited about this independent, woman-centric collaboration, which makes it hard to admit I was disappointed.
Lea Thompson has been a prominent part of films and TV for over thirty years. Her husband, Howard Deutch, the director and producer of many classic films, including 80’s darlings Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful. With The Year of Spectacular Men, Thompson makes her directorial debut, and her collaborators? Her daughters, Madelyn and Zoey Deutch, who co-star in the film, with Madelyn helming the script of this new comedy.
Zoey Deutch is quickly becoming a household name, with her recent Netflix rom-com Set It Up, last years Before I Fall, and Why Him to the recent indie Flower. Once again, she steals the show. In Spectacular Men the two real-life Deutch’s play sisters, and they share a palpable pop of sibling charm. It’s one of the most endearing aspects. With so much talent involved, and a premise of potential significance, it should be a winning hand. While not without its moments, the film inevitably suffers from being mediocre, making this a familial letdown.
Part Romance, Part Comedy, Part A Story About Growing Up
Izzy (Madelyn) is floundering. As she says, she’s in the middle of her “quarter life crisis.” She’s about to graduate from college when her relationship with Aaron (Jesse Bradford) comes to a halt. She frequents various professional pursuits but can’t seem to find one that sticks. Once she does graduate, she decides to move in with her movie-star sister Sabrina (Zoey) and her boyfriend Sebastian (Avan Jogia) in California, to pursue an acting career herself.
Things don’t go smoothly, and there’s a handful of men she engages with on her quest to fulfillment. Among the eclectic mix of masculine personalities are actors Brandon Jackson, Zach Roerig, Cameron Monaghan and Nicholas Braun. At numerous times, the movie cuts to an interview, talking to the men she interacts with, as they share their version of Izzy. Each of these love interests is introduced in dissimilar ways, whether that be a botched one-night stand, a relationship, a long night of talking or a possible game changer.
Along with her own problems, paradise might not be all it’s portrayed to be for Sabrina and Sebastian. As rising stars, the paparazzi are recurrently outside their home, and the tabloids instigate jealousy. There are several pokes at celebrity life, that, mixed with the millennial crisis, are comical peaks. Their mother, Deb (Thompson), after losing her husband, is dating a much younger and slightly flaky Amythest (Melissa Bolona), and there are mixed reactions from her girls.
Not Entirely Without Merit, All The Players Prove On Their Game
The Year of Spectacular Men does a great job of making it a modern take on love, while also bringing us the 80’s gleam inspired by some of the films their parents were so famous for. There’s a great use of setting too, from NYC To LA to San Francisco, Thompson uses these electric cities to further the scenic vibe.
There’s a lot within the uneven borders of the film that show there is value and genuine artistry involved. Thompson might not get it entirely right the first time, but she shows she has an eye for it, ensuring she could really succeed on this side of the lens. Madelyn writes some very funny (sometimes belly laughing) snappy dialogue, understanding female quips and how to expose the hilarious moments hidden in mundane daily lives. Zoey, is delightful in the role, showing that she’s got a vivid charisma and an indubitably continuous bright future.
To go back to the script, it never fully lifts off, staying within the lines. The eventual proclamation of female empowerment doesn’t feel as earned as it should. There were moments I really enjoyed, however, when it comes to The Year Of Spectacular Men, the but, is inevitable.
The film starts by offering Izzy as a zany character, a woman of unique circumstances and comical tones, but for charm to work, it has to be gripping. I anxiously waited for the movie to do so. As a viewer, the character often either swoons us right away, or they become someone that grows on us by the end. Spectacular Men straddles the two possibilities, making it challenging for Izzy to be the heroine she deserves to be.
In the third act, there’s more glue, substance, and focus. There is also significant dramatic elements with the three proving they shine the brightest in each other’s company. As Thompson says “Bitches need Bitches.” Especially the observations of the sisters, along with their quick wit banter, making being in their warmth, a comfort.
Conclusion: The Year Of Spectacular Men
While Zoey Deutch might be the most memorable feminine presence, everyone has instances of substantial heart. The Year of Spectacular Men might spin its wheels and veer off course, but there’s still some fun to be had by these spectacular women. When the film finally finds its rhythm, there’s too many missed opportunities for it to be a hit.
What do you think? Do you disagree? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!
The Year Of Spectacular Men was released June 15, 2018 in the US, and is available VOD.
Opinions expressed in our articles are those of the authors and not of the Film Inquiry magazine.