The Voices – 2014

Director Marjane Satrapi
Screenplay Michael R. Perry
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jacki Weaver, Ella Smith

This is a recommendation I got from a friend at work. He is as disappointed with me as I am with this movie.

I am unsure what to think of the film. If it’s a comedy, it’s dark to the point of being pitch black. It’s played completely straight by it’s lead, Ryan Reynolds. I am sure he enjoys this, but will viewers? Reynolds is Jerry, an upbeat man who is completely off of his medications prescribed to keep him from being locked up. His court appointed doctor (Weaver) knows this, and his boss might know this. Clearly, no one else has a clue.

Some people, like Fiona (Arterton) get the vibe he’s either weird, boring or just not worth remembering. He doesn’t catch on to her disinterest until it’s too late for her. More on that later. But not much more. Or much later.

Jerry likes Fiona. Jerry gets a chance to ask her out. She blows him off and goes somewhere else with the girls. Jerry gets a chance to take her home when her car breaks down. Jerry hits a deer. The deer tells Jerry to finish the job and kill him. He does this. Fiona freaks out and runs off. Of course she has to die. Why? Because the plot demands there be an accident right about then.

So yeah, Jerry talks to animals. They’re his own voice, with accents. The two main animals include his dog, Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers. The dog is his angel. The cat is the voice he listens to most often, and he’s no angel.

We get a glimpse of Jerry on his meds. There are several clues left beforehand that imply he won’t like what he sees. He certainly does not. Midway through the film, the pills are out of the picture, and so is any chance of survival of many supporting actresses.

I would discuss more of these actresses, but they’re really only there to be props for his delusions. Anna Kendrick plays against every instinct any of her characters have ever had to become part of his collection.

Mr. Whiskers and Bosco are a big part of the story. Much of their back and forth with Jerry is meant to elicit laughs. It might be funnier if any of the characters did not appear as though they lived in Pleasantville before it moved to color. As there is nothing to any of the characters other than the simplest motivations, it’s hard to feel like Jerry has done anything wrong.

The end of the story feels like something out of Grand Theft Auto. The cops are on their way, but Jerry is not going to be caught. The cops, like any of his victims, are NPCs just waiting on the periphery.

Reynolds does his very best straight face through all of Jerry’s challenges. He’s completely hidden any idea that he’s in on the joke. Or even that it is intended to be a joke. Even when he sings the happy song as the credits roll. Most viewers will not feel happy.

(** out of *****)

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