By Don Simpson | August 27, 2015
Director: John Magary
Writers: John Magary, Russell Harbaugh, Myna Joseph
Starring: Josh Lucas, Stephen Plunkett, Lucy Owen, Cory Nichols, Mickey Sumner, Louisa Krause, Austin Pendleton, Sarah Steele, Leo Fitzpatrick
Everything about Mat (Josh Lucas) is toxic. He truly is a horrible human being. Yet despite his numerous irredeemable qualities, Mat still finds ways to sponge off of women — the latest victim being Andrea (Lucy Owen). When that crash pad goes sour, he opts to track down his estranged brother Alan (Stephen Plunkett). Mat quickly ingratiates himself into Alan’s apartment, like a rotten stench that just will not go away.
The two brothers are like two magnets, depending on their positions they either attract or repel each other. While Alan is certainly more sympathetic than Mat, the siblings seem to be cut from the same cloth when it comes to relationships. As we hear more about their father — via their father’s friend, Earl (Austin Pendleton) — the genetic line grows oh so clear; and as is often the case when kin are uncannily similar, they cannot stand to be around each other.
John Magary’s The Mend meanders its way through Mat’s perpetually drunken stupor, stumbling and slurring from one awkward scene to the next. The freewheeling, practically surrealist, narrative structure of The Mend keeps the viewer guessing about Magary’s intentions. The timeline unravels as something close to a “day in the life” story about one of most unlikeable protagonists in the history of cinema. Magary really tests the viewer’s patience with the unabashed acridity of Mat’s personality. To put Mat in recent context, he makes Alex Ross Perry and Noah Baumbach’s male protagonists seem like cuddly teddy bears. But while Mat has absolutely no empathy for anyone whatsoever, his character still has the magical ability to conjure up laughs, reminiscent of Denis Leary’s heyday. In writing, The Mend might not sound funny at all, but it is actually quite hilarious. It is a pretty brilliant feat that Magary pulls off.