‘Phil’ the movie and person could’ve been so much more

by Joe Jarosz on July 9, 2019

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Rock Fist Way Down]

Movies like Phil are so annoying.

The dialogue was fine, the casting was smart, especially Greg Kinnear (and I’ll explain why a couple paragraphs down), and the movie was shot well.

No, Phil was annoying because it could have been so much more than it was! It doesn’t take any risks, it just is. It wasn’t dramatic enough for me to consider it a drama or dark enough to fit into that dark comedy spectrum. Some people might like not being defined as any one thing, but the problem with that in this case, is it makes Phil forgettable.

Kinnear, in his directorial debut, plays the titular character Phil, a depressed dentist whose life is falling apart. The movie opens with him trying to kill himself, so we know this guy isn’t in the best place mentally.

Jay Duplass as Malcolm and Greg Kinnear as Phil in Phil.

One day, Phil gets a new patient, Michael Fisk (Bradley Whitford). If anyone appears to have the perfect life, it’s this guy. He talks about his travels to Greece, his recently published book, his family and his amazing life. Phil isn’t so much jealous, but enamored. He wants to be this guy’s friend.

So, he stalks him. He follows him around for a day, only to stumble upon Michael’s suicide. If the man who Phil thought had everything killed himself, what in the world could have been his reason? Phil’s life is falling apart, nobody would’ve second guesses if he wanted to kill himself. But Mr. Fisk? It doesn’t make any sense to Phil.

He’s determined to find out why. How does he do that? By tricking Michael’s wife, daughter, family and friends into thinking he’s an an old friend from Greece who’s come to pay his respects. Alicia (Emily Mortimer) finds Phil sleeping next to her husband’s grave. Maybe it was the stress of being a widow that prevented her from hearing Phil’s horrible Greek accent, I don’t know, but she believes him when he says his name is Spiros. Phil quickly teaches himself some Greek and practically moves in with Alicia, to help her during the grieving period.

Greg Kinnear as Phil and Emily Mortimer as Alicia in Phil.

I said earlier that Kinnear was perfectly cast because this is his kind of movie … an undefinable genre film. From Dear God to Fast Food Nation, if it was a forgettable movie that you remember seeing once, then it probably had Kinnear in the cast.

What’s most annoying about this film is the real impact and discussion it could have had about mental health. Two people in this film attempt to kill themselves, one successfully I might add, and there is hardly a mention about their mental health.

This movie could’ve done a lot of good and helped people going through tough times, but instead offers nothing.

Joe Jarosz is a Midwest boy now living in California.

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