Here's one: An arrogant novelist, a failed marriage and a childlike nature photographer walk into a lakehouse ... and so do a narrating moppet, a pot-smoking life coach and his free-spirited girlfriend.
But there are no punch lines to "Among Ravens," the dreary mix of soul searching, secret baring and dark comedy from writer-star Russell Friedenberg, co-directing with Randy Redroad. Instead we just get indie movie clichés about nature and innocence served up with staid determination.
Chunky avians-as-humans metaphors abound as mysterious bird-watching houseguest Chad (Will McCormack) intrudes on a friends-and-family Fourth of July weekend hosted by a disillusioned wife (Amy Smart) and her jumpy stockbroker husband (Joshua Leonard).
As expected, Chad's naive nosiness upends everyone's carefully held fictions about themselves, including the fact that the novelist (Friedenberg) is an intellectual fraud with a blocked ghost writer (Christian Campbell) camped out nearby.
The pretty Idaho locations just can't add any atmospheric heft to Friedenberg's schematic characters and merry-go-round of dysfunction, leaving the performances as a real grab bag of seriousness and silliness. There's simply nobody to care about in "Among Ravens," even as a case study in unhappiness and delusion.
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes.
Playing: At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times