Band Aid Review

Independent comedies are full of single young adults trying to navigate life or falling in and out of love, but there aren’t any depictions of modern marital discord. In comes Zoe Lister-Jones with her directorial debut, “Band Aid,” starring her and Adam Pally as a constantly bickering couple who try starting a band as their own form of couples therapy.

“Band Aid” is a concept-driven comedy to be sure, but it doesn’t dictate the confines of the story Lister-Jones wants to tell. The heart of the film is this couple, Anna and Ben, navigating an early low of their marriage in the face of external pressures from their parents and friends with babies and pressure from with (and from each other) with regards to their struggling careers.

Just like some of the best films and TV shows today about single young adults strike a resonant and familiar chord with the struggles of single young adults, “Band Aid” has its best moments when it hits the nail on the head of marital fighting and the other inglorious sides of committed relationships, and not just in the gendered way reminiscent of older sitcoms.

What’s really nice about Lister-Jones’ script is she doesn’t stoop to bringing in outside romantic interests/infidelity to create intrigue or send the film down the overly beaten paths of romantic comedies and dramas in which there’s a misunderstanding that’s unforgivable in one character’s eyes and then there’s some big showy moment of reconciliation. The conflict instead comes from Anna and Ben taking things out on each other, dealing low verbal blows and making poor (but feasible) choices, then working on themselves and on their relationship to repair the damage.


To avoid going on and on about the drama, the film also has plenty of laughs  aside from the humor of listening to two characters have arguments that sound familiar. The cast is full of gifted/experienced comic actors; Lister-Jones is clearly good at making friends. From Fred Armisen as the creepy, sex-addicted neighbor who plays drums to Susie Essman and Lister-Jones’ former collaborators including Brooklyn Decker, Hannah Simone (“New Girl”) and even a cameo by Colin Hanks, there are tons of familiar faces who absolutely understand the tone this film is going for.

There’s a lot of sharp, awkward humor and an unabashed attitude toward taboos that create an environment of honesty around the film, allowing the more serious moments feel real. Small details like the couple’s enjoyment of recreational drugs, for example, communicate to the audience that these characters aren’t pristine, while also normalizing those behaviors and making the point that people do drugs and that’s really not what’s wrong with them or their relationship.

There are a lot of creators getting credited with being a voice of their generation (e.g. Aziz Ansari, Lena Dunham) and Lister-Jones creates something on par with these contemporary voices. “Band Aid” isn’t getting the attention of “Master of None” or “The Big Sick” and similar shows and films that feel relevant right now, especially to 20- and 30-somethings, but fans of that style of content should add it to their watch lists.

 

4/5 Stars

 

Band Aid
Written and Directed by Zoe Lister-Jones
Starring: Zoe Lister-Jones, Adam Pally, Fred Armisen

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