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Puffy Chair, The

Other // R // June 2, 2006
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Allposters]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted June 3, 2006 | E-mail the Author
If you go solely by Hollywood fare, there are really only two sorts of comedy: bland romantic comedy ... and fart jokes. Fortunately there are some indie filmmakers out there who've been raised on the works of Albert Brooks, Woody Allen, and James L. Brooks. Yes, those were the filmmakers that came to mind as I watched (and seriously enjoyed) The Puffy Chair. Clearly that's a pretty flattering comparison, but then ... this is a pretty damn good movie.

Josh and Emily are a sweet little couple; they're good-looking, they're witty, and they're clearly pretty enamored with one another. To celebrate the birthday of his father, Josh has a plan: he aims to drive cross-country to pick up a fluffy purple recliner that he bought on eBay and drop it off to dear old Dad just in time for his birthday.

Let's just say that things don't exactly go as planned. First, Emily kind of guilts Josh into inviting her along for the road trip. OK, she's a really cool gal, so that doesn't create much of a problem. But after Josh and Emily stop over to visit Josh's quietly insane brother, Rhett, the duo becomes a trio and the insanity is just getting started: their travels lead to a seriously embarrassing visit to a roadside motel, a few confrontations with shady furniture salesmen (and upholsterers), and there's even an impromptu wedding!

The three leads might be newcomers, but each one delivers a quietly fantastic performance. As Josh, Mark Duplass brings an easygoing goofiness and everyman's charm to the central role. Kathryn Aselton inhabits Emily with all sorts of foibles and insecurities, but deep down she's quite the lovable gal. And Rhett Jordan (as, not surprisingly, Rhett) steals huge chunks of the movie for himself and runs off giggling. Rhett's sort of a new-age hippie weirdo-type, but Jordan also brings a welcome vibe of sweet-natured innocence. Plus he's really, really funny in that "soft-spoken, dry & droll" sort of way.

The Puffy Chair might have been produced for the cost of one day's catering on something like Spider-Man 2, but the sincere movie geeks out there really don't care how much a movie costs. They care how much it WORKS, and The Puffy Chair works alarmingly well. It's disarmingly sweet and consistently funny; it's insightful, unpredictable and poignant; and it clearly comes from someone's real-life experience. The Puffy Chair has a lot more soul, wit and truth than most of what passes for comedy these days, plus it's a road trip, a rom-com, and a dialogue-driven slice-of-life at the same time. As trite as it might sound, I eagerly look forward to whatever the Duplass boys come up with next.

P.S. The MPAA gave The Puffy Chair an R rating for "profanity." If the Duplass boys had made a movie in which 1,000 evil henchmen were bloodlessly killed by machine gun fire, they'd have received a PG-13. Keep up the good work, MPAA.


(Review reprinted from my SXSW 2005 coverage at eFilmCritic.com.)

C O N T E N T

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Highly Recommended

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