The Stand Up
For a film about a stand-up comedian to be mirthless is dispiriting; more problematic, however, is that The Stand Up doesn’t make up for that absence of humor with any legitimate drama. A year after his beloved girlfriend Miranda (Julia Dennis) is killed, up-and-coming funnyman Zoe (Jonathan Sollis) still hasn’t recovered. His path to healing, though, is made Easy-Bake simple by writer/director David Wexler, who first has the protagonist land a temporary kindergarten teaching gig thanks to his school-principal father (Aidan Quinn) and then at that job has him meet perfect-match Veronica (Margarita Levieva), who also has past issues with romantic abandonment. Zoe thus becomes a passive participant in his own healing, which Wexler leaves so uncomplicated that the story simply coasts along on a smooth path to happily ever after. Meanwhile, save for Zoe’s contentious back-and-forths with a student’s bitchy mother, comedy is largely absent, as any Bad News Bears–style adult-kid ridiculousness is avoided. Wexler’s most insightful scene finds Zoe, through working with children, positively altering the sad memory associated with a pair of carpentry goggles. Regrettably, it’s impossible for the film or its star to do little more than recall other recent comedies and performers: the superior School of Rock for one and, via the portly Sollis’s eerily similar voice, Jonah Hill.
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