The man-child is alive and immature in Norway, according to The Almost Man, a deadpan portrait of 35-year-old Henrik’s (Henrik Rafaelsen) incessantly awkward reactions to forthcoming responsibility.
With his girlfriend, Tone (Janne Heltberg Haarseth), pregnant with their first child, Henrik behaves like a teenager, as when he and Tone hilariously pretend to have an argument in the grocery store about abortion and infidelity. Viewing his protagonist with wry detachment, director Martin Lund pitches this character study between awkward comedy and uncomfortable pathos.
To his credit, even as his material begins spiraling into less amusing territory, Lund alleviates the growing gloom with goofball levity, most winningly in a scene in which Henrik’s ribald pals serenade him with a public rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” Rafaelsen’s inelegant manner — all impromptu and inappropriate gestures and comments — makes Henrik sympathetic, even as he becomes increasingly unhinged, peeing in strangers’ cars and enacting a profane sex scene between his two puppy slippers while lying on his mother’s couch.
Unfortunately, after so many like-minded Apatow-ish domestic efforts, The Almost Man invariably comes off as slightly stale, and also — despite a deft ending that lands on a modestly hopeful note — too slight to register as anything more than a stunted-adolescent trifle.