Kabluey

2008, Movie, PG-13, 86 mins

Review

KABLUEY
starstarstarstar
Writer-director-star Scott Prendergast's first feature, an offbeat a comedy of discomfort, revolves around a feckless man-child, his overwhelmed sister–in-law and her out-of-control kids.

Leslie (Lisa Kudrow) is at the end of her rope: Her husband's tour of duty in Iraq has been extended, she can't afford daycare for her clingy, hyperactive sons, Lincoln and Cameron (Landon Henninger, Cameron Wofford), but unless she goes back to work soon she'll lose her health insurance. Her mother-in-law is busy caring for her sick husband but suggests her younger son, Salman (Prendergast), an unemployed drifter with belongings scattered in storage spaces from Vermont to Iowa. Salman's relationship with Leslie and his brother has always been rocky -- they haven't spoken since an unfortunate incident at the wedding – but she's desperate enough to agree. Within 24 hours of Salman's arrival, Leslie realizes her mistake: The kids hate him on sight, he's clueless about basic, day-to-day matters and has no idea how to maintain order, discipline or control – quite the opposite. He's also so broke he can't afford a bus ticket back to where he came from, so Leslie fixes him up with a part-time job at BlueNeXion, the failing internet startup where she works. The cash-strapped company is sitting on thousands of feet of unused office space, and Salman is charged with dressing up as the corporate mascot -- a faceless, fingerless humanoid named "Kabluey" (imagine the AOL running man, life-sized and blue) -- and hand out flyers to potential renters by the stifling, near-empty roadside. In short, it's a nightmare. But something odd happens – people find the forlorn blue man somehow touching: Road workers offer cold beer, a pampered housewife (Christine Taylor) hires him to work her son's birthday party, the hostile checkout girl (Angela Sarafyan) from the City Market gives him a second chance and Leslie's kids actually hug him. With the exception of anger-management class candidate Suze (Teri Garr), who lost a bundle on BlueNeXion stock, everyone likes Kabluey. But they still don't like Salman, which is the beauty of Prendergast's melancholy fable: it never succumbs to the cheap sentiment.

Groundlings alumnus Prendergast's dark comedy, drawn from on his own family experiences, is firmly rooted in messy, selfish, often-unappealing human behavior rather than self-referential irony and juvenile goofiness. Salman is clearly damaged goods, Leslie's kids are acting out in response to tensions they sense but don't understand and Leslie is too mired her own unhappiness to behave like a responsible adult. Their emotional flailing is both grimly amusing and profoundly sad, and their small victories have a real emotional resonance most mainstream comedies lack. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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