By Don Simpson | March 28, 2015
Directors: Jennifer Prediger, Jess Weixler
Writers: Jennifer Prediger, Jess Weixler
Starring: Jennifer Prediger, Jess Weixler, Megan Mullally, Will Forte, Jeffrey Tambor, Bob Byington
On the verge of eviction from their New York City apartment, Olivia (Jennifer Prediger) and Nicole (Jess Weixler) would probably prefer to rely upon the magical powers of trouble dolls to make their worries go away. They have made it this far presumably without investing too much effort, so why start now? Since their rent dilemma does not seem to want to solve itself, Olivia and Nicole opt to escape to sunny Los Angeles on a private jet owned by Nicole’s family.
When their rich Los Angelean host, Nicole’s Aunt Kimberley (Megan Mullally), suggests that they should audition for her talent competition television series, Olivia and Nicole see an opportunity for an easy way out of their financial quagmire. However, with no understanding of the kind of “special something” that the show is looking for, Olivia and Nicole find themselves comically ill-prepared to perform, naively assuming that an oblique performance art presentation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull will qualify them.
Set up with little backstory and providing little character development, Apartment Troubles plays more like an absurd situational comedy than a narrative film. That is not such a bad thing, because in pairing these two eccentrically quirky personalities, Jennifer Prediger and Jess Weixler’s comedic sensibilities are able to flourish in this wackadoodle, odd couple/buddy movie premise.
Encapsulated by the unique female vantage point of co-writers and directors, Prediger and Weixler, Apartment Troubles showcases a refreshing je ne sais quoi about the codependent relationship between these two female protagonists that most male writers and directors seem incapable of ever achieving. On paper, Olivia and Nicole would probably seem like annoyingly spoiled hipsters, but Prediger and Weixler find a way to present their protagonists with subtle enough sympathy to make us question why we do not hate them. Perhaps it is the ever-present sexual predators, who go overwhelming unnoticed by Olivia and Nicole, who help make us feel sorry for the misguided leads.
As the female versions of the cinematic man-child, Olivia and Nicole are stilted by childish innocence rather than laziness; from Prediger and Weixler’s perspectives, Olivia and Nicole are not slackers, they are just baby birds who were never taught how to fly. Olivia and Nicole do not understand that they cannot live without electricity in New York City, no matter how hard they try to convince themselves that they do not want to be part of “the problem”; just as they immaturely embark upon a cleanse, not for health or spiritual purposes but only because they cannot afford to eat. Again, Prediger and Weixler massage these superficial “moral” stances just enough so that their characters come off as endearing, rather than irritating.
The finesse of Apartment Troubles, and Prediger and Weixler’s avoidance of going for the big, obvious laughs, is quite commendable. Apartment Troubles will hopefully leave audiences begging for more films to be written and/or directed by women. At the very least, Apartment Troubles will certainly function as a calling card for Prediger and Weixler’s talents on both sides of the camera.