Ode To Joy


Reviewed by: John-Anthony Disotto

Ode To Joy
"The mix of a humorous story with a well-set pace can’t cover up that the scientifically inaccurate lead element makes the story feel far too contrived." | Photo: Courtesy of EIFF

Ode To Joy, Jason Winer’s return to the cinema screen after 2008’s Arthur remake, takes the traditional romantic comedy story arc and adds a genetic disease into the mix. Unlike films that came before it, merging illness with romance and comedy (Me And Earl And The Dying Girl, to give a recent example) the mix of a humorous story with a well-set pace can’t cover up that the scientifically inaccurate lead element makes the story feel far too contrived.

Martin Freeman stars as Charlie, living his life unable to experience happiness with a form of narcolepsy called cataplexy, which leads to fainting-goat syndrome any time he loves life. Working in a library, Charlie avoids all pleasures in life, including looking at babies, cute dogs and any form of human decency as he commutes to work. Until one day, Francesca (Morena Baccarin, Deadpool’s love interest Vanessa), walks into the library after a breakup. Francesca is a vulnerable woman who “always dates the ones that won’t last”, she looks after her dying aunt and in doing so refuses her own happiness; the common theme here.

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Charlie, in a bid to avoid himself falling in love, attempts to set his younger brother Cooper (Jake Lacy) up with Francesca in order to be happy from a distance. In the meantime, he tries to make his own life as dull as possible to help get by. His plan works until he realises that it’s fear itself that is causing him to neglect his own feelings.

Ode To Joy keeps humour at the forefront of the narrative and it makes for moments of genuine laughter, most notably scenes involving Melissa Rauch (Bernadette in Big BangTheory) as Bethany, Charlie’s incredibly dull love interest. That being said, the use of a medical condition to create a narrative for an otherwise run of the mill rom-com feels cheap, especially when a condition such a narcolepsy, which can cause severe dependency in sufferers’ lives, is made light of to push forward plot. If you set aside the medical inaccuracies and allow the film to be the happy-go-lucky romantic comedy it’s attempting to be then Ode To Joy is an easy, predictable watch that will bring a smile to your face.

In that respect, the film is a success, yet I can’t seem to let go of the cheapness surrounding the subject matter - a little bit of subtlety would go a long way.

Reviewed on: 04 Jul 2019
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A man who suffers sudden bouts of paralysis whenever he experiences strong emotions finds his efforts to avoid joy put to the test when he falls in love.

Director: Jason Winer

Writer: Max Werner, Chris Higgins

Starring: Morena Baccarin, Melissa Rauch, Martin Freeman, Shannon Woodward, Jake Lacy, Jane Curtin, Ellis Rubin, Adam Shapiro, Jackie Seiden, Tyler Bourke, Jason Altman, Alex Perez, Ravi Cabot-Conyers, dL Sams, Morena Baccarin

Year: 2019

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2019

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