I Do…Until I Don’t (2017)
As a narrator talks about marriage and how it’s for life, we see a funeral taking place. We see a bunch of tombstones with inscriptions such as “Beloved Wife” or “Fidelity and Death.” The narrator talks about the word ‘betrothed’ which is another word for ‘pledge’ and how we give the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ and then throw trash out our car window. The narrator talks about how we aren’t meant to be married for too long now that we are living into our eighties and nineties, all the while we see shots of happy people getting married. We go back to the funeral, with everyone in mourning while the narrator continues to talk how we aren’t meant to living with the same person for fifty years. The narrator says that we either have two choices; we can die early or rethink the system.
We cut to Harvey (Paul Reiser) and Cybil (Mary Steenburgen) that are at the funeral. Harvey and Cybil, are a couple that has been married for a long time. They are both unhappy, not because they are at a funeral, but because they are tired of living with each other. We cut to documentary filmmaker Vivian (Dolly Wells), who has been our narrator. She is giving a speech to the ‘Vero Beach Cultural Society’ on her idea that marriage should only be a seven-year contract with an option to renew. Alice (Lake Bell) is sitting the audience and stands up to ask a question. Alice tells Vivian that she loved her earlier film and wants to know why Vivian selected Vero Beach to make her film. She has picked Vero Beach because it’s the divorce capital of America and it’s the basis of her new movie.
We cut to the window and blinds store that Alice and her husband, Noah (Ed Helms). Noah is using a towel to mop up some water that has fallen from the ceiling. Alice is going on and on about Vivian’s presentation and how much she admires her. Neither one of them is listening to the other one as Noah is talking about how bad business is. Alice has come up with a bunch of slogans to make the shop appear more modern. Noah brings up the fact that he knows that Alice is ovulating (he has an app for that) and suggests they have sex in the bathroom.
We cut to Vivian and her assistant standing outside in front of a restaurant. Vivian gets into an argument with her ex-husband over the phone, hangs up on him, and Vivian and her assistant go into the restaurant. Inside Cybil is dictating an email on her phone as we see through a window that Harvey has arrived on a motorcycle in full biker attire, including a black helmet. Harvey sits down across from Cybil and refuses to take off his helmet, just to annoy Cybil. It’s obvious that this marriage is not working and it seems that Cybil and Harvey have contempt for each other. Harvey leaves to go to the bathroom, and Vivian uses that moment to ask Cybil if she and Harvey want to be in her movie. Cybil negotiates payment and promises that the film will end with her divorce from Harvey. Vivian is about to get involved with the lives of not just Mary and Harvey, but a whole host of couples including Alice and Noah and she just might change all their lives.
I loved writer/director/actress Lake Bell’s In a World… film from 2012. I thought it was original, bright and hilarious. Unfortunately, I Do… Until I Don’t doesn’t have those qualities that In A World… had. The film is an ensemble comedy, and I think that’s where Bell went wrong. There are just too many characters in the movie that you just don’t care about. Vivian, the documentary filmmaker, is the character that mucks up this film. Every scene with her seems to suck the life out of the movie. Vivian is the least interesting character in the film, but the way the plot is laid out she interacts with all the couples and therefore has a lot of screen time. Bell has created a character in Vivian that is grating and predictable. When I was thinking about this film, I wondered if this would have been a better film if Bell had just had Vivian give the speech at the start of the film, with all the couples attending and then maybe appear at the end as a narrator, cut her out of most of the movie. There aren’t many laughs in this film and boy; it could use some. The plot is predictable, and you can see the ending to this film almost from the start.
Lake Bell and Ed Helms work well together on screen and feel like a real couple. There are some interesting scenes between the two, and you can feel the love the two characters have for each other on the screen. I also like Paul Reiser and Mary Steenburgen in the film. They also seem like real people that are stuck in a marriage that neither of them wants. There is a third couple in the film; two free spirits who have an open relationship, played by Amber Heard and Wyatt Cenac, are the weakest characters of the three couples. Their hippie, everything is cool wears out very quickly, with Heard playing Bell’s sister, who is just there to contrast with Bell’s straight-laced character.
I Do…Until I Don’t is an uninspired mess of a film that rarely is funny and most of the film is dull and tame. Instead of originality, we get a movie that seems to use every plot device of a bad TV comedy from the 80s to try and find laughter. I love Lake Bell as an actress and look forward to her next film she decides to write and direct, but I hope I never have to see this film again. My Rating: Cable
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again