The plight of 20 somethings is becoming its own genre at this point, with young filmmakers transferring their experiences and malaise feelings toward adulthood onto the silver screen because it’s what they know. The most recent example comes from Jennifer Prediger and Jess Weixler’s “Apartment Troubles,” a dramedy that the pair wrote, directed and starred in. The problem here is that the genre is already feeling played out and even “Apartment Troubles” tangents to extremes of 20 something culture don’t make it endearing, but rather justifiably annoying.
Nicole (Weixler) and Olivia (Prediger) are roommates in New York City on the verge of eviction who decide to take a trip to Los Angeles to get away and figure things out. Instead of relaxing in the sun, however, their friendship ends up being tested.
As simple as that might seem, the film’s eccentricities are many and end up being its downfall, feeling like one of Nicole’s art projects, over-conceived but not quite finished. Olivia wears the ashes of her dead cat around her neck, Nicole has alienated herself from her family because she is too “out there,” Aunt Kimberly (Megan Mullally) makes a move on Olivia, and there are worms in their apartments (unclear if they are pets or pests).
There’s a purpose to most of these -not so sure what the point of the worms are – but they are all underdeveloped. There are only a couple of moments when you truly feel for these characters, but any sympathy is often rung dry shortly thereafter because of flat jokes or deplorable actions.
Despite all of that, the duo manages a surprisingly poignant ending. After being told that you have to hit rock bottom to get things in order, we finally see these two girls who seemed locked in unison heading toward oblivion, break free of one another. Olivia gets an acting gig while Nicole is left wallowing in the trash of her uncompleted art projects after being evicted. Olivia hit rock bottom and found a way out, we don’t know if Nicole ever will. While everything builds to that final moment, it’s a plodding, unappealing slog.
Weixler and Prediger managed to surround themselves with an impressive cast of supporting actors for their film debut with Mullally, Jeffrey Tambor and Will Forte. Unfortunately, they all are essentially window dressing. Tambor and Forte have only two scenes; Tambor is only there to introduce plot, while Forte actually is the one to give the rock bottom speech, but that’s only after a messy and failed comedic scene earlier in the film. Mullally actually gets the closest thing to a role as Aunt Kimberly, but it’s another instance of a half-developed element of the film that fails to pay off.
As someone currently in their 20s, I am able to grasp at the problems that face Nicole and Olivia – searching for your passion, living on your own, taking on the responsibilities of being an adult. They’re not unique to these characters, so they are not enough to carry this film. The success of “Apartment Troubles” rested solely on the shoulders of getting the audience to have a vested interest in Nicole and Olivia, and frankly it is unable to do that.
It is clear that Prediger and Weixler had something in mind, something they wanted to say, with those final moments, but they were not able to craft the rest of the film to that level.
Apartment Troubles opens in select cities and on VOD on March 27.