In his directorial debut, John Krasinski adapts David Foster Wallace's book. Krasinski is best known for his role as Jim on the NBC series The Office. Krasinski started appearing in films a few years ago. He co-starred alongside George Clooney in Leatherheads and last year alongside Meryl Streep in It's Complicated. This is his foray away from those kinds of broad comedies.
Yet, if this is his attempt away from humorous material, Krasinski doesn't go very far. His story is basic. A young woman named Sara Quinn conducts Kinsey-style inquiries. She sits men down in a room and actively interviews them or else she picks up conversations here and there. Many of the men, though never named, are portrayed by some very comedic actors.
With the tone being slightly off or dancing between drama and comedy, I'm not sure if I was supposed to take any of this seriously or even what it was the director had been trying to say. Ostensibly, the movie seemed to be about men's perceptions of women and men's trouble understanding them.
The only exception is Subject #42. Again, the men aren't named. They're instead given subject numbers, and half way through the movie, we're introduced to Subject #42, a middle-aged, black man who talks about his father's job as a bathroom attendant. Frankie Faison plays Subject #42 and is interesting and compelling, but so out-of-place against the rest of the movie.
Krasinski gets a good selection of actors, including himself to sit down and deliver these, sometimes provocative or often creepy monologues that range from coprolalia to positive aspects of incest. Only twice or so do we really get the young woman's reaction to any of it.
I wish Krasinski had provided more scenes that involved Quinn doing that, giving some analysis to the things she was hearing. She claims to be studying the men, but we never really see her doing that. Her scenes with Subject #46, played by Dominic Cooper, and, Subject #20, played by Krasinski, allow her some interaction, but still there's no context or conclusion to be had with any of the other men.
Does this young woman learn anything? Is the audience of this movie supposed to learn anything? The scenes involving Subject #19, played by Chris Messina, and Subject #2, played by Josh Charles, are amusing, but it hardly makes enough to recommend this movie.
One Star out of Five Not Rated but Recommended for Mature Audiences Running Time: 1 hr. and 20 mins.