Disavowing the popular bumper-sticker maxim that “life’s hard, then you die,” the hero of the independent feature “Home Remedy” (opening a three-day run Sunday at the New Beverly) announces in the film’s opening minutes that, “actually, life is boring , then you die.”
He proceeds to lock himself into complete seclusion in his New Jersey house for months on end, in order to cultivate the ability to embrace--not avoid--this inevitable monotony that is life.
Oddly enough, embracing boredom just so happens to be the exact same ability needed to weather all 88 minutes of “Home Remedy,” in which couch potato-dom is elevated to new quasi-philosophic heights. Whatever self-absorption causes newly 30-year-old protagonist Richie Rosenbaum (Seth Barrish) to hibernate and sit around videotaping his own sophomoric monologues isn’t catching, but his ennui is.
Lest this remain a one-man show, Richie is given a (sort of) romantic foil: average ditzy, 40-ish, movie-suburban housewife Nancy Smith (Maxine Albert), whose own doldrums drive her to become obsessed with the weird neighbor who won’t come out of his house. Nancy not only resists Richie’s pleas to go away but actually begins spending her afternoons on a lawn chair in his driveway. When he heatedly and repeatedly demands to know what she wants, this frustrated Hausfrau finally blurts out, “A little adventure, OK?” Boy, has she come to the wrong place.
These star-crossed malcontents are of course destined to transform each other in positive ways, though the extent of their improvement may be up for debate come the curtain. Richie seems obnoxious beyond redemption when first aiming hurtful taunts at Nancy from his kitchen window; later on, when he inevitably softens up and falls for her, he’s no longer cruel and unlikable, just as ditzy as she is and unlikable. Some transformation.
Director/writer Maggie Greenwald has at least achieved a nice, on-location look with the shoestring budget of “Home Remedy” (Times-rated: Mature). But her unfathomably sluggish pacing and nearly nonexistent plot can hardly sustain the Jonathan Demme-like changes in comedic tone. (After a “quirky” first hour, she veers toward psychodrama with a mutilation scene, then slapstick with the late addition of a jealous husband.)
To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: Greenwald is no Demme. And to paraphrase the film’s Richie: This picture is boring, then you die--not necessarily in that order.
A Xero Film Associates presentation. Producer Kathie Hersch. Director/writer Maggie Greenwald. Camera Thomas H. Jewett. Editor Pamela Scott Arnold. Music Steve Katz. With Seth Barrish, Maxine Albert, Richard Kidney.
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.