“Love is hell” might very well be the title of one of the original songs featured in the new romantic comedy Band Aid, this week’s Movie of the Week. Although in the parlance of Zoe Lister-Jones’ directorial debut, calling the song “Love is heck” might actually be more fitting. Continue reading…
Band Aid stars a veritable pantheon of famous faces from television sitcoms including Adam Pally (The Mindy Project), Fred Armisen (Portlandia), Colin Hanks (Life in Pieces), Ravi Patel (Superstore), Hannah Simone (New Girl), and Brooklyn Decker (Friends with Better Lives). This familiarity gives it a certain humbleness and scale that suits the story.
Anna (Lister-Jones) and her husband Ben (Pally) are at a crossroads. The life they envisioned for themselves as college phenoms has failed to manifest. Anna’s book deal has fallen through, and Ben is reduced to designing corporate logos. A miscarriage has added a note of genuine tragedy. The pair are drifting along, smoking a lot of pot, and engaging in epic fights over dishes. Ennui and disappointment color their days. But even in the darkest moments, there is hope, and occasionally music.
After jamming out at a kid’s birthday party, whilst stoned to the gills, Anna and Ben have the brilliant idea to start a band, and turn all of their fights into songs. Before you can say “Rumours” the pair have drafted their weirdo neighbor (Fred Armisen) to play the drums, and they are off to the open mic night.
The premise is most definitely on the twee side, but Lister-Jones and her co-stars, especially Armisen as a recovering sex addict with a serious coco fetish, add warmth and humour. When the film stays the course, it charming and engaging enough. Things are a little less cohesive when therapy-speak about the nature of men and women gets dropped wholesale into mouths of characters. (A scene in which Ben’s mother explains how she wished she’d known how to behave in her own marriage is particularly cringe inducing.) But overall the film does what it can with its humble resources, and it plays to its strengths: namely, genuine affection between the characters, a gentle touch, and, surprisingly catchy tunes! — Dorothy Woodend
Team #MOTW Comments:
Betsy Bozdech A couple’s painfully real conflict leads to both comedy and drama in writer/director/star Zoe Lister-Jones’ tale of marriage, self-awareness, and growing up. Anna (Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) are spinning in place, stuck in unhealthy patterns and taking their frustration and fear out on each other in increasingly bitter squabbles. They unexpectedly discover that making music together allows them to express their feelings with less recrimination, but even that doesn’t really get to the bottom of the pain between them. Mixing pathos with hipster humor, Lister-Jones brings a fresh, relatable perspective to issues that will feel very familiar to many viewers.
Liz Whittemore: Band Aid might be my favorite film of 2017. Multitalented Zoe Lister-Jones writes, directs, produces, and stars in this intimate portrait of a marriage on the verge of divorce. Adam Pally plays her mutually quirky husband who agrees to work through their resentment in music form. With the help of Fred Armisen as their oddball neighbor, The Dirty Dishes are born. They gift us some of the most incredible indie rock songs that are somewhere between Kate Nash, The Band of Horses, and Weird Al. Equal parts hilarious and touching, you will no doubt laugh and cry and laugh and cry again. The script is filled with wit and the performances are nothing less than impeccable. Lister-Jones’ use of an all female crew is an awesome example of the kind of art that can be created with literally like-minded individuals. The future of female filmmaking is looking pretty fantastic if this is any indication. Band Aid is unafraid to peek into the lives of a modern 30-something couple whose narcissism is a mask for their own grief.
Sheila Roberts: There’s lots to like about “Band Aid,” a witty, cleverly titled West Coast indie comedy written, directed and starring Zoe Lister-Jones in her feature debut. The film centers on a bickering couple (Lister-Jones, Adam Pally) unable to transcend their marital frustrations until they’re inspired to form a garage band and channel their angry fights into powerful songs. This female-centric film with a music-centric plot hits all the right notes, balancing humor with drama while tackling serious issues about love and what it truly means. It’s great seeing Lister-Jones move behind the camera to tell a story with important themes from a fresh female perspective. She’s definitely a promising young director to keep our eyes on.
Nell Minow: This bittersweet comedy about a couple who find each other again by turning their arguments into rock songs has a surprisingly touching message about the vital necessity of creating art. Read interview with Zoe Lister-Jones.
Jennifer Merin: Zoe Lister-Jones’ engaging musical dramedy is about a young couple who manage to save their troubled marriage by composing and performing songs together — about their biggest fights. This is cinema that affirms the bracing importance of music and shared creative endeavors. Lister-Jones wrote, directed, co-composed the songs and stars in the film. Big up, as they say, to Lister-Jones!
Pam Grady: The chemistry between writer-star Zoe Lister-Jones (who also makes her directing debut) and Adam Pally as a married couple trying to mend their troubled relationship, Fred Armisen’s witty turn as the couple’s oddball neighbor, and a handful of energetic songs are the highlights of this well-meaning, fitfully amusing, if ultimately forgettable, romantic dramedy.
Cate Marquis: A young married couple who just can’t stop arguing decide to turn their fights into songs, in the indie comedy BAND AID. Writer/director/producer Zoe Lister-Jones also stars in this film, her directorial debut. BAND AID is lifted by its well-done musical sequences, tuneful and surprisingly enjoyable, but the humor is more uneven. Read full review.
Title: Band Aid
Director: Zoe Lister-Jones
Release Date: June 23, 2017
Running Time: 91 mins.
Principal Cast: Zoe Lister-Jones, Adam Pally, Fred Armisen
Screenwriter: Zoe Lister-Jones
Production Company: Mister Lister Films
Distribution Company: IFC
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Thelma Adams, Anne Brodie, Betsy Bozdech, Cynthia Fuchs, Pam Grady, Leba Hertz, MaryAnn Johanson, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Sheila Roberts, Liz Whittemore, Susan Wloszczyna, Jeanne Wolf, Dorothy Woodend
Written by Dorothy Woodend and Betsy Bozdech, edited by Jennifer Merin