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Harmony and Me Poorly Shot, Consistently Funny

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Harmony and Me
Directed by Bob Byington
September 18 through 24, MOMA

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Slight, indifferently shot, and entirely lacking in ballast, Harmony and Me's sole justification for being is that it's consistently very funny. Harmony (Justin Rice) has a life full of (ha!) discord; obsessing over his ex, Jessica (Kristen Tucker), he floats through a boring tech job, takes piano lessons, and generally screws around in the kind of low-stakes economic free-fall that a college town like Austin, Texas, can sustain. Harmony should theoretically be a comedy of awkwardness—it's got ugly broken marriages, pedophile jokes, and a suicide attempt—but, with hilarious dialogue, it's poised at the exact sweet spot where awkward encounters don't make the audience themselves uncomfortable, just amused. Director Bob Byington understands comic editing, cutting scenes to their essence—rarely longer than a minute—and gets the most out of a sharp cast. His film is continually quotable, from Harmony's query to a friend driving his mom's cracked-windshield minivan—"Is that like an ongoing adrenal rush of low self-esteem?"—to a morning-after exchange with a deranged neighbor (She: "You got some in my hair." He: "That wasn't unintentional"). It's deceptively loose, but always on point—like Bottle Rocket, only with no visual style, stakes, tension, or real substance. Nothing wrong with that.

 
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