Thursday, February 16, 2017

Now on Netflix: Operator (2016)

Operator (2016) - Directed by Logan Kibens; Written by Sharon Greene, Logan Kibens; Starring Martin Starr, Mae Whitman, Nat Faxon, Cameron Esposito, Retta, Christine Lahti.

By Kenny Howell

Operator has an interesting idea, struggles to find out what to do with it, then picks a weird direction tonally.

It's the story of a software developer named Joe, played by Martin Starr (I'll See You in My Dreams), who is working on an operator system for a health care company. When the first one seems a bit condescending, he decides to use the voice and personality of his wife Emily, played by Mae Whitman (The DUFF), a hotel concierge that keeps her cool no matter what situation comes her way.

Her voice is a hit with the development team, and Joe becomes a obsessed with the new "Emily". In addition to her concierge job, Emily does improv, and she is away at shows a lot of the times when Joe needs her. He suffers from crippling anxiety and panic attacks, partially brought on by an illness his mother is battling. He then starts to lean more on "Emily" instead of Emily.

That last paragraph is where Operator, which does have a talented cast, falls apart. Joe's obsession with the new Emily is sort of half baked and turns into a full blown crisis rather quickly for both Joe and Emily. I never felt that Emily wasn't there for Joe, it just seemed the movie decided all of the sudden that she wasn't. He has a bad panic attack when she isn't there, and all the sudden the whole world Joe and Emily have created has been destroyed. He even pleasures himself to the "Emily" on the phone, which also comes out of nowhere.

Something like obsession has to be built carefully, and sometimes slowly, because the audience has to understand why this obsession has so firmly taken hold of its character. That isn't there for Operator, and it just seems like an abrupt, oh, now the movie is about this. It's unfortunate because Whitman is quite good, and Nat Faxon is funny in a supporting role that tonally seems like it is in a different movie. I almost would have rather the film go in the direction that he is playing because it fits the strength of its cast, and might have lightened the load on the heavier themes while still finding its purpose.

Operator is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: *1/2

No comments:

Post a Comment