Self-delusion can be funny, but often sad
Since her brief stint on SNL, Casey Wilson has been a favorite of mine, bringing a strange, nervous energy to her characters that enhances their comedy. Her biggest character to date, Happy Endings' neurotic Penny, exemplified this trait, chasing happiness, but often sabotaging herself. Chloe is similar, living a miserable New York City existence as a go-go dancer, while her bestie Kate (Raphael) is a busy business woman whose sole business is selling her eggs to prospective parents. Unwilling and unable to see their lives for the shambles they are, they tell themselves that they are successful. However, when an invite arrives for them to compete in the anniversary edition of the beauty pageant that has defined their lives, they set out to recapture their falsely-held glory.
As with any movie featuring a road trip, the voyage back home offers a variety of problems for the two, including an amusing layover at a sapphic hideaway and an awkward talent show, but it also serves to reveal more about Kate and Chloe, whose eyes begin to open, especially when they stop by to pay a visit to Chloe's father (a schlubby Vincent D'Onofrio.) While Wilson and the severely-underrated Raphael (who has the rare ability to maintain high dignity while still being silly or funny) earn a good deal of laughs throughout, in part because of the ridiculous confidence they exude, the film puts their characters through the wringer, to the point where it actually gets pretty sad, sending them to rock bottom. It's not all big feelings and awful realizations though, and Wilson and Raphael deserve credit for avoiding the temptation to redeem their heroines, nor have them find happiness in a relationship. These are people you wouldn't want to spend a lot of time with, but 75 minutes isn't torture.
Director Chris Nelson (the recent Date and Switch) keeps the film feeling fun even when the subject matter isn't, with a bright, somewhat artificial look (like a pumped-up sitcom of sorts.) This is obviously Wilson and Raphael's show, lending a comfortable feel to the film, while a host of cameos for comedy geeks to watch for include Bob Odenkirk, Paul Rust, Drew Droege and Raphael's husband, Paul Scheer, in a part he was born to play. Though there are a lot of solid ingredients in this mix, the end result is too uneven and not funny enough when fans of the these two women sit down to watch. As irreverent as the film can be, they may have a bit too much invested in these characters (whose adventure is partially based on their experiences) to let us just laugh at them. These feelings just aren't cooperating with expectations.