A & E

Review: Meeting Spencer is more like Meeting . . . zzzz


By Jonah Walker-Sherman
Remember those movies you considered watching because you had nothing better to do, but didn’t watch them because they’d be a waste of time? I watch those… and review them. You’re welcome.
Directed By
Malcolm Mowbray
Jeffrey Tambor
Melinda McGraw
Jesse Plemons
Screenplay: Andrew Kole, Scott Kasdin, Andrew Delaplaine
Story by: Andrew Kole, Andrew Delaplaine

Watching Meeting Spencer is like opening a Kinder egg: you don’t know what you’re going to get, but you’re sure it’s going to be cheap junk. The opening shot of the film pans over snowy New York (now you know where the budget went) to the dulcet tune of “The Show Must Go On” by The Real Tuesday Weld, a band so famous somebody forgot to write their Wikipedia page. Eventually, the camera settles on Melinda Mcgraw, and purgatory – I mean, the movie – begins.

Harris Chappell (played by Jeffrey Tambor) returns to New York City after failing as a director in Los Angeles to find investors for his new play. Despite his goal, he spends the entire movie meeting up with odd, famous or highly influential people that happen to drop by his table. Nancy Diamond, the owner of an acting agency, tells Harris that if his play wins a Tony he’ll get a three movie deal in Hollywood. Having fulfilled her part in the story she is then relegated to a table in the corner of the restaurant for the rest of the movie, where occasionally we see a close up of her table for lame reaction shots. Other characters, like David, a famous actor, show up to inform Harris of useless expositional tidbits like Larry is on his way. Who is Larry? We don’t know. Nor do we care. The movie is similar to a 3-ring circus. In the centre ring is Harry’s table, where all the relevant characters go until they’ve delivered their required dialogue and then they go to either the men’s washroom, the bar, or the corner table.

Ironically the most redeeming feature of the film is its acting. Everyone does a decent-to-believable job, except for Spencer (played by Jesse Plemons). Plemons’ poor performance isn’t entirely his fault, but it’s the same problem that Kristen Stewart had in the Twilight series. Spencer has one facial expression. Sad Spencer is no different from ad Spencer who is no different from bland Spencer. The director, Malcolm Mowbray, must have realized this because halfway through the movie he has the actor’s point out Spencer’s mood through their dialogue.  

The time period of the movie is also extremely confusing. Near the end of the movie, Nikki takes a picture with a pink Motorola V3, the quintessential flip phone of 2004. Up until that point, I had assumed the movie was in 2010. Why, I wondered, would a movie coming out in 2011 take place in 2004? Why is there no mention of the time period? However, such questions are wasted on Meeting Spencer because it’s painfully obvious that Malcolm Mowbray never thought that far ahead.

Only after looking up Meeting Spencer in IMDB did I realize that it was listed as a comedy. Although, in retrospect, the two lame cow fart jokes should have tipped me off. The movie isn’t funny; it’s boring–so mind-numbingly boring that when Harris says, “a movie is like life except we take all the boring parts out,” I couldn’t help but laugh.

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