By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
So far, 2017 has been a good year for the romantic comedy. I have seen three films this year that have renewed my enthusiasm for a genre whose entries in recent decades have often left me bored or frustrated. The Big Sick, Signature Move and now, Band Aid are films that have fresh and exciting writing that takes rom com tropes and breathes new life into them with hilarious comedy and genuine poignancy. Talented writer/director/actress Zoe Lister-Jones is in the ingenious mind behind the movie Band Aid, a movie that had me seriously guffawing often and wholeheartedly rooting for its protagonists.
Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) have not been married for too long, but find themselves arguing constantly. Their counselor suggests that the two seek out an alternative form of therapy where they can both express their feelings and work out their differences in a more productive way. Because both Anna and Ben can play musical instruments and can sing decently, they decide to turn their fights into songs and start a band. With Anna on the bass and Ben on guitar, the band still needs a drummer. After a strange and awkward meeting with their odd neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen), who just happens to play the drums, they reluctantly decide to recruit him for their project. As Anna and Ben write songs and perform them, they find the experience therapeutic and cathartic. However, the real source of their issues still lingers in their hearts and minds and things eventually come to a head.
To be honest, I really was not all that familiar with Zoe Lister-Jones until I saw this film. Now, it is a name that I will never forget. I was tremendously impressed with the writer/director/actress who has made a truly wondrous relationship comedy that hits all the right notes. The comedy is sharp, witty, and rollicking. The drama that does ensue plays out with genuine heart, pain, and pathos. Lister-Jones also exhibits a great talent for character development with her protagonists who come across as the genuine articles. Things get ugly, but none of the drama feels artificial or contrived. She has also assembled a wonderful cast who all deliver great performances.
Though most of the supporting cast members and cameo actors serve basic purposes, they all have their amusing entertaining moments. Some of these include Susie Essman, Retta, Hannah Simone, Ravi Patel, Brooklyn Decker, Colin Hanks, Jamie Chung, Erinn Hayes, and Colin Hanks. Fred Armisen is absolutely hilarious as the band’s drummer and next-door neighbor Dave, a socially awkward and quirky guy, but one with a big heart. Armisen also has the chance to show off his impressive drumming talents. The two leads, though, are the ones who shine the brightest here.
Adam Pally and Zoe Lister-Jones are truly magical as Ben and Anna. Both actors share a perfect chemistry as both husband and wife characters and a comedic duo. They also have a beautiful musical chemistry that is evident in their musical numbers. In the more dramatic fight scenes, they can trade painful barbs like a real couple whose marriage is in trouble. It is a multi-level character relationship that works superbly throughout the film.
That genuine chemistry, along with the outstanding writing and direction really make this relationship comedy work wonders and make it stand out from the typical rom com drivel that usually gets into theaters. Zoe Lister-Jones is a multi-talented artist who deserves much success from this film and the opportunity to do more. This movie will have a limited release in Austin and other places, so I must encourage my readers to rush out and see it. Indie films like this one which supersede the quality of work produced by the major Hollywood studios deserve their audiences and the dollars that come with them. In Austin, Texas, Band Aid will open exclusively at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – Mueller on June 23, 2017. For more information on the movie and other locations where it might be available, go to http://www.ifcfilms.com/films/band-aid.