Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Now at Netflix: Better Living Through Chemistry (2014)

Better Living Through Chemistry posterBetter Living Through Chemistry (2014) - Written and Directed by Geoff Moore and David Posamentier; Starring Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan, Ray Liotta, Ben Schwartz, Jane Fonda.

By Kenny Howell

If Better Living Through Chemistry hadn't tried so hard and polished out the many rough edges, it might have been a lot better.

The subject has been done before. A man has a major mid life crisis, instead of living life conservatively, he swings drastically to the other end of the spectrum. In this case, it involves an affair, a possible a murder, heavy drug use, etc. And of course it is played for laughs.

Sam Rockwell (The Way Way Back) plays Doug Varney, a man who has recently taken over the small town pharmacy from his domineering father-in-law. His wife (Monaghan) also walks all over him, making him take up her hobbies, including cycling, which she has won several trophies doing.

One evening, Doug is handling the pharmacy deliveries and stops by a mansion. Answering the door is a sexy woman in a negligee named Elizabeth Roberts, played by Olivia Wilde (Rush). She is unhappy with her rich husband, and sees something in Doug. She drunkenly kisses him that evening, and when they run into each other later, an affair begins. She sparks some life in Doug. His attitude changes, and he starts to take charge. That includes mixing up his own concoctions of drugs, which him and Elizabeth do together while they are having a little fun.

A joke comes up one night that maybe they should just kill Elizabeth's husband and take off with each other. That joke sticks in the back of their heads, and the pair possibly move toward that direction as the movie moves along.

Despite a super talented cast, Better Living Through Chemistry is really sloppy. It wants to be several different things, instead of just telling it's own story. Like I said, it wants to be the mid life crisis movie, it wants to be the affair and murder movie, it wants to be a drug comedy. It doesn't do really any of these things well, and never quite comes together. The movie is even narrated by Jane Fonda just to set up a really stupid joke that falls incredibly flat at the end.

The saving grace is Rockwell as usual. He tends to go toward the crazy in almost every role, and I always want to watch it. Wilde is good as well, as she has the market cornered on sexy comedienne these days.

Better Living Through Chemistry is currently streaming on Netflix.

Rating: **

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