Writer-director Benjamin Cox packs his feature debut, "Better Off Single," with so much visual and narrative gimmickry that he nearly forgets to tell an actual story. The result: a dizzying, overly glib look at a confused young man's search for love and sex in the city.
Aaron Tveit (TV's "Grease Live!") stars as Charlie, a handsome, at times charismatic New Yorker forced to pick up the pieces after manically quitting his girlfriend (Abby Elliott) and his job in the same day.
But Charlie, for all his seeming introspection, has no idea what he wants and gets little enlightenment from his cavalier, fast-talking pals (Shane McRae, Kal Penn, Jason Ralph) who simply encourage Charlie's narcissism and general bad behavior. Meanwhile, the women Charlie meets either enable or disable him.
With its muddy timeline, kaleidoscope of fantasies, flashbacks and hallucinations, broad characterizations and sitcom slickness, the film never settles down long enough to congeal, much less feel remotely connected to reality.
Cox closes this eccentric mishmash on an incongruously mawkish note, including an unearned lesson to "enjoy the ride." The movie runs just 71 minutes (plus protracted end credits) but feels a whole lot longer.
The nimble cast, which also features Lauren Miller, Kelen Coleman, Chris Elliott and Lewis Black (as the world's worst shrink), deserves better — as do viewers.
'Better Off Single'
Running time: 1 hour, 21 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD