Sunday, June 11, 2017

Girlfriend's Day (2017)

How do you handle something that’s mediocre?  If something is good, you can recommend it to people.  If something is bad, you can at least warn them about it.  What if a movie hits that spot between watchable and unwatchable?  I’m not saying Girlfriend’s day found that spot, but it almost seems like that’s what it was hoping for.  It’s not a great movie, but it’s not a horrible movie, either.

It starts with Ray Wentworth talking with his coworkers at a greeting-card company.   Ray is called in to see his boss, Styvesan, and promptly fired.  Ray just hasn’t been producing good stuff any more.  In fact, he’s been producing crap.  (One card holds ten dimes.)  Ray even offers to fold the cards, saying he can do it faster than the machines.  Alas, it’s to no avail.

Ray spends the next three months drinking and laying around his apartment.  He spends his time watching TV and ignoring his landlord.  He’s also had a hand injury for those months.  He cut it on a picture frame and the tendons are slow to heal.  There is hope on the horizon.  Ray’s former boss comes to him with a proposition:  Write some romantic cards for girlfriends.  Ray is even given an advance on his work.

Ray comes to realize what’s going on when a new holiday is announced.  It’s called Girlfriend’s day and is meant to revitalize the industry.  Everyone wants in on this.  Well, Ray needs some stuff from his former desk, which Styvesan agrees to let Ray get.  As Ray is leaving the building, he finds a former coworker on the floor, dying of a stab wound.  He’s hit on the head and passes out.

He wakes up in his apartment with a new, less-incriminating shirt.  Also there is Detective Miller, who has Ray’s bloody shirt.  Ray is to write a perfect card for the new holiday.  You see, Miller is on the outs with his girlfriend.  A good card would get him back in.  No card means that the evidence finds its way to the police station.

It seems everyone wants a card for this new holiday.  What’s a guy to do?  Ray was writing crappy stuff before.  Now, he has pressure coming from all directions.  Even his new girlfriend may be little more than a way to get him writing again.

The movie is listed as a drama and a comedy.  I’m not sure it works as either.  It’s not so much that I don’t get the jokes.  I do get many of them.  It’s just that the movie seems to be coming off as a satire, but it lacks the focus of a single target.  There are noir elements, like Ray finding a victim as he’s dying and subsequently making himself look guilty.  That part is at least obvious.

Some of the stuff is more obscure.  Ray and his fellow writers seem to enjoy a level of fame.  Ray is said to have been great at what he does.  I’m not sure, though, if he’s a local celebrity or of this is an alternate universe where greeting-card writers are famous.  Also, Ray watches a show called Bumfights.  On several occasions, he sees one of the fighters on the street.  I’m not sure what e movie was going with that.

Fortunately, the movie doesn’t feel long at 70 minutes.  The movie doesn’t drag at all except for one scene where Ray is led through a series of rooms.  Even there, it’s kept short.  I can see people liking Girlfriend’s Day, but I don’t think this is going to make anyone’s top-ten list.  For that matter, I don’t see it making anyone’s bottom-ten list, either.  It has its moments, but isn’t really a standout movie.

The movie seems to like contradictions.  I’m not even certain if it’s a comedy trying to be serious or a drama trying to be funny.  Take Ray.  He’s a walking sack of misery and sadness.  And he made a living writing romance cards.  Even if you do get the humor, it’s a somewhat depressing movie.


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