DVD Review - Almost Friends
Written and directed by Jake Goldberger (Don McKay and Life of a King), this movie makes the fatal mistake of not making its romantic lead interesting or compelling. He's devoid of much of a personality, which can be explained away with him being shy, but the question has to be asked as to why anyone would be attracted or choose him over a ton of other guys. Goldberger doesn't really answer that question in a satisfying way or any way that makes much sense. No offense to the girl in question, but the reverse is true as well. The movie doesn't really explain what it is about her that makes the guy in question so obsessed over her, other than she's really pretty and if that's the case, then the movie is just superficial fluff.
Highmore stars as Charlie Brenner, a twenty-something living in Mobile, Alabama, with his mother, his stepfather and his half-brother. He laments that he's as old as he is and is still living with his mom. It's never explained why but given financial situations in general over the past decade, it's not too shocking. He works as an assistant manager at a movie theater, which one would think would afford him enough for an apartment either alone or with his best friend, Ben, played by Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense and A. I. Artificial Intelligence). Yet, he seems content though not content with his situation.
He pretends that his keys aren't his keys. Why is never explained. She holds onto them also inexplicably. He doesn't say anything clever. Later, in an awkward elevator moment, Charlie makes a funny comment that makes Amber laugh. No one else, not even Amber's boyfriend, laughs, which indicates that maybe Charlie and Amber share a sense of humor that no one else immediately gets, but that's really the only time Charlie makes a joke like that. He's playful with his little brother, but I don't see how that's enough to make her stray from her boyfriend to Charlie.
Maybe, I could see her doing it purely on a visceral level, if Charlie were being played by an actor with a bit more raw, sex appeal or overwhelming charisma like Nicholas Hoult, Timothée Chalamet, Dev Patel, Ansel Elgort, Tom Holland or John Boyega. All the aforementioned actors are under 30 and have made names for themselves in Oscar-nominated or blockbuster films recently. All of whom jump off the screen in ways that Highmore doesn't.
Goldberger's film posits that there needs to be no reason. Amber drifts to Charlie simply because he pops up all the time at her coffee shop or a party she's at. He doesn't need to do anything or say anything special. He can fumble his way into her heart and with little effort get her into bed. Yet, if she wants him for some reason that isn't logical because love rarely is, the least Goldberger could have done is provide a reason why Charlie would fall for Amber besides her being pretty. It's not clear what Amber's interests are or what she plans to study at NYU, or even if her interests attracted Charlie to her at all any way. We actually learn more about Ben who's studying to become a lawyer than we do about Amber.
Not Rated but contains language and rear male nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 41 mins.