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Extraterrestrial and Friends With Kids

TIFF 2011 Video Review


N/A; 90 minutes/100 minutes

Director: Nacho Vigalondo/Jennifer Westfeldt


Written by on September 12, 2011 




Following up one of my personal favorite time-travel movies, Timecrimes director Nacho Vigalondo has unspooled his sci-fi/romance/comedy/drama Extraterrestrial (trailer here) in Toronto. Don’t be fooled by the title and the elements it suggests, as the latter three genres mentioned are more represented. Julio (Julián Villagrán) wakes up in a hungover slumber, soon realizing he is in unfamiliar territory at the apartment of a woman (Julia, played by Michelle Jenner) with whom he came home with the previous night.

Vigalondo takes his precious time as we stay in Julio’s perspective, discovering as he does the phones and cable are out and the streets are empty. A portion of a hovering spaceship is spotted outside and they keep watch via a camcorder and AV cable hooked to their HDTV. And that is where the sci-fi element ends. Although it mostly takes place in one apartment, this is no Skyline with an overabundance of low-budget special effects.

As Julia’s neighbor Ángel and her boyfriend Tipo (Miguel Noguera) enter into the picture, intentions are questioned and a spiral of misinformation snowballs. Relationships get intertwined and the film quickly becomes a dry romantic/comedy. This is the element I most admired, as one person’s misinformed reaction will completely change the events of the film, while Julio and Julia explore how far they can take things in such close quarters. It gets ridiculously silly by the unsatisfying, muddled finale but extracting the sci-fi elements, Extraterrestrial is a fun enough farce.

I also got to check out a very different romantic/comedy/drama with Jennifer Westfeldt‘s Friend with Kids. Starring in the film alongside her real-life husband Jon Hamm, the cast also includes a lot of Bridesmaids players such as Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Chris O’Dowd. Adam Scott is the lead though and after admiring his work in smaller films like Passenger Side along with his bigger comedies, it is great to see the Parks and Recreations regular given a role of this caliber. Megan Fox and Edward Burns round out the rest of this cast, which delivers a character-focused, hilarious look at young adult life.

The first act comprises what would be the end of films like this year’s Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached. Friends since college, Westfeldt and Scott’s characters decide to have a child for purely platonic reasons as they see the marriages of their other friends deteriorate. While the first half of the film mostly plays for laugh and succeeds quite well, it is the dramatic last third that caught me by surprise. The cast is asked to do much more than the first two acts would have you suspect and Adam Scott specifically sells it completely. If you liked the drama/comedy mix of Bridesmaids, keep a look out for Friends With Kids and you can read our full text review here.

I recorded a video review of both titles above with Alex Billington of First Showing and Peter Sciretta of /Film, which can be seen below.



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