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Your appreciation for Joshy will depend on your tolerance for thirtysomething white bros with hipster tendencies. Josh (Thomas Middleditch) and his friends convene at a rented house in Ojai, California, for what should have been his bachelor party, but there’s a catch: His fiancée committed suicide, and no one is sure how to deal with the loss. We don’t see enough of the departed to quite understand why she killed herself, and a late scene in which her parents show up at the house and angrily accuse Josh of murder feels half-baked.
Joshy could easily be a film about loss, but it instead ends up as a prickly exploration of forced fun. Josh’s friends all want to have a memorable time, and their efforts — which involve drinks and drugs, a hot tub, strippers, a prostitute and a nerdy role-playing board game (not all at the same time) — never pan out as they hope.
Writer-director Jeff Baena’s film has a decidedly masculine energy, tempered somewhat by Jenny Slate’s welcome appearance as Jodi, a woman the gang meets and tentatively hangs out with at a bar (and, later, at the house). Josh’s friend Adam (Alex Ross Perry) is too much of a broadly nerdy, whiny-voiced caricature; Eric (Nick Kroll) and Greg (Brett Gelman) are the alpha males here, and their constant need to have fun through irresponsible measures can make the audience wince.
Baena’s dialogue is largely improvised, and it seems he had the freewheeling, talky cinema of independent icons like John Cassavetes in mind.
“All I’m trying to do is create a fun, dynamic weekend,” one of the bros says late in the film. Joshy isn’t fun. It doesn’t want to be. It’s far more focused on the moment when fun becomes discomfort.
Directed by Jeff Baena
Lions Gate Premiere
Opens August 12, BAM Rose Cinemas