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

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.