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


Kip Mooney // Film Critic


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

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.