Jose Stern, an erstwhile indie-rocker relegated to playing children’s
birthday parties, is on the verge of turning 40 and at a crossroads in
No Way Jose
Directed by Adam Goldberg
Starring Adam Goldberg, Emily Osment, Gillian Jacobs
“I tried!! I’ve been super passive-aggressive about it! But you keep making t-shirts!!”
Coming straight at you via Digital HD and its DVD snail-mail equivalent is the latest from Adam Goldberg. A ‘coming of middle age’ comedy. Goldberg directs, writes (with Sarah Kate Levy) and stars in this tale of Jose Stern, a man that has inevitably and hesitantly reached what he sees as an unfortunate marker on the road of life.
Perhaps less focused than we might expect, Goldberg’s attempts to tell an amusing, affable and poignant yarn about the rigours of reaching forty, with all of its incumbent emotional pitfalls. Here, however, we are offered something quite different, an ageless story about the tribulations of relationships, borne it would appear from a certain amount of personal perspective. The ageless definition here applies both to the story’s lack of reliance on an ‘age’ that this takes place at and that it is also something that has been done before, many times, and occasionally with a smidgen more sophistication and kudos.
That’s not to say Goldberg’s attempts are not enjoyable. Far from it. Both he and the cast are very watchable throughout and also provide engaging, mostly believable performances. Single men of a certain age will recognise a little part of themselves here if they are paying attention, even if they come off as emasculated and weathered, but maybe not as much as they would have liked or hoped, given the promises that were made before seating.
Nuanced and often delightful, the script is polished and impressive, delivered best by the female members of the talented ensemble presented before us. Goldberg himself does well both on the acting and directing fronts too, but some of his shot choices are maybe a little 50/50. Sometimes inspired and yet at other times, feeling a little too ‘film school kitsch’ for my own personal liking.
Overall, a very enjoyable, sometimes funny, always credible tale of one mans’ descent into single life from a position of safety and security, with a lopsided look at how he flounders with his problems under the guise of an alleged mid-life crisis of sorts. If you want truly funny and on the subject matter that this purported to be at the outset, however, go and watch ’10’ with Dudley Moore and Julie Andrews. Goldberg does well, for sure, but there are better stories on the subject out there.