Movie Review: ‘ENTANGLEMENT’ can’t free itself from clichés

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Kip Mooney // Film Critic

ENTANGLEMENT

Not Rated, 85 minutes.
Director: Jason James
Cast: Thomas MiddleditchJess WeixlerJohannah NewmarchDiana Bang and Nicole LaPlaca

In 2007, culture critic Nathan Rabin coined the phrase “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” He used it to describe Kirsten Dunst’s character in ELIZABETHTOWN, but really it’s a catch-all term for any quirky woman in a romantic comedy whose sole purpose is to pull our sad-sack dude protagonist out of his funk.

Unfortunately, that’s just one of many clichés the occasionally charming but ultimately frustrating ENTANGLEMENT indulges in.

The film begins with Ben (Thomas Middleditch) botching suicide attempt after suicide attempt, until a delivery driver finds him collapsed in the lobby of his apartment complex. I really appreciated the film’s pitch-black humor at the beginning, which made its later chickening out all the more maddening.

Flash-forward six months and Ben is seeing a therapist and taking medication (though doing neither as seriously as he should be). He’s still reluctant to be part of the world that’s hurt him so much. That is, until two seemingly coincidental events happen back-to-back. He meets the quirky and cute Hanna (Jess Weixler) at the pharmacy, and his dad tells him he almost had an adopted sister, but they didn’t go through with it after his mom found out she was pregnant.

Thus, Ben finally has the impetus he needs to do something other than hang around his apartment and mope. Unfortunately, everything after this is as predictable as possible, right down to its twin twists in the final minutes. ENTANGLEMENT tries to be a drama about mental health, a missing-person mystery and a twee romantic comedy at the same time. It succeeds at none of it.

Middleditch is quite good, however. He’s not as clumsy as he is on SILICON VALLEY or as obnoxious as he’s been in those seemingly endless Verizon commercials. And if Weixler had more to do than get Ben to “wild things” like swim in a public pool after hours, she’d shine brightly, too.

But ENTANGLEMENT can’t get itself out of the clichéd mess it’s made.

[Grade: C]

ENTANGLEMENT opens in limited release today, and is also available On Demand and Digital HD.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.