Movie Review: ‘I DO… UNTIL I DON’T’ can’t commit to anything

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Kip Mooney // Film Critic

I DO… UNTIL I DON’T

Rated R, 106 minutes.
Director: Lake Bell
Cast: Lake BellEd HelmsPaul ReiserMary SteenburgenAmber HeardWyatt Cenac and Dolly Wells

Marriage is a complicated thing. It takes a lot of work, it’s not always easy, and it’s not for every couple. But movies whose main thesis is “Marriage is a prison and you should break out of it” drive me up a wall.

Lake Bell’s latest dramedy seems to ascribe to this theory, but if you’ve ever seen a romantic comedy before, you’ll know the characters won’t end in the same place they started.

Bell plays Alice, the most complex character. She’s the unfulfilled wife of Noah (Ed Helms). They struggle with infertility and teeter on the verge of bankruptcy. She’s fascinated by documentary filmmaker Vivian (Dolly Wells), who thinks all marriages should be seven-year contracts with an option to renew. Vivian’s obsessed with manufacturing conflict to make her latest project seem more exciting.

Vivian convinces Alice and Noah, along with a polyamorous hippie couple (Wyatt Cenac and Amber Heard) and a resentful older couple (Mary Steenburgen and Paul Reiser) to participate, running through every romantic cliché possible and trying to exacerbate their problems.

But the movie makes these connections as tangential as possible, and meanders all the way to the end. There are detours at a shady massage parlor, alleged drug abuse and a woman going into labor at an inopportune moment.

So it’s hard to forge connections with any of these couples, and the film isn’t funny enough to dismiss any of its flaws. There’s a richer, sadder movie underneath the surface, one that would actually take the time to explore all these problems.

But by the time each couple reaches their respective epiphanies, I’d already lost interest. That’s a real shame, since I think Lake Bell can be quite funny, and her last film as writer-director (IN A WORLD…) was a hidden gem. But I DO… UNTIL I DON’T never earns its laughs, lessons or length.

Grade: C-

I DO… UNTIL I DON’T opens in limited release on Friday (9/1).
Dallas: Angelika Film Center in Plano and Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre in Dallas.

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 (FreshFiction.tv) 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.