AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2011
By Don Simpson | October 17, 2011
Writer: David Wexler
Starring: Jonathan Sollis, Margarita Levieva, Aidan Quinn, Jonathan Reed Wexler, Arija Bareikis
Zoe (Jonathan Sollis) is a stand up comedian who is desperately in love with his beautiful girlfriend Miranda (Julia Dennis). Miranda dies suddenly, slingshotting Zoe into a bitter and jaded state of depression. Then, after one year of being “Mr. Doom and Gloom”, Zoe finds himself forced to…ummm…teach kindergarten? That is right! But, luckily there is a super cute fellow kindergarten teacher, Veronica (Margarita Levieva). And, well, I think we all know exactly where the story goes from here…
But it is how it gets there that is pretty darn fantastic. Jonathan Sollis, for one, is excellent as Zoe. Not only does he have a great rapport with the kindergarteners, but he plays the formulaic role with utmost sincerity and naturalism. It also helps that Sollis is not your typical Hollywood hunk — he is more of an everyman. If The Stand Up was a big budget Hollywood film, Seth Rogen would have been cast as Zoe; and though I like Rogen, I guarantee that he would have amped the character up to 11. Sollis’ subdued approach to Zoe reveals great patience; he is also able to communicate a heck of lot of information to the audience merely with his eyes.
I typically fault writers and directors for making overtly formulaic films, but writer-director David Wexler’s The Stand Up is a rare exception to that rule. Heck, even “allergies” made my eyes mysteriously misty during the inevitable happy ending. Ugh! I really hate having my heartstrings tugged like that!