When Bobby (Justin Rice) sits down to justify his self-description as a screenwriter, he thinks only in vague references (“Is expressionism OK or not?”), and all he can come up with is a vision of two men in pigeon costumes trading fatalistic commentaries on post-9/11 New York. “Crap,” he thinks, and rightly so. Later, at the movies with his equally untalented songwriter friend, Scott (Brendan Sexton III), and Scott’s long-suffering girlfriend, Michelle (Pepper Binkley), they watch a parody of Garden State, complete with a devastating paraphrase of the hamster-burying scene. Jonathan Blitstein’s feature debut studies urban, “artistic” twentysomethings and their failed relationships in a quasi-naturalistic way that runs counter to both of the bad examples offered in its own opening. Nearly every scene has its own visual conceit, from comic fast-motion chases to a languorous pan through a guitar store, which allows a bro heart-to-heart to set its own rhythm. It’s lively and funny, if unbalanced: Bobby and Scott’s relationships are pitted against playwright Hart Carlton (Zach Galligan), whose overtly self-important plays win all the grants and girls. Hart’s a pompous villain in a film that doesn’t need one (he’s just as talentless, albeit better at hiding it), and Blitstein screws up all momentum when trying to juggle three unequal stories. But if the structure of Let Them Chirp Awhile prevents any accumulated emotion, scene to scene, it’s pretty hilarious.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 3, 2008