SXSW Film Festival Day 5: TV Actor Day! 'Frankie Go Boom' + 'See Girl Run'

Frankie Go Boom

The fifth day of the film fest found me seeking out my favorite television actors to see how they perform outside their comfortable characters -- results were mixed.

Frankie Go Boom

Director: Jordan Roberts
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Chris O'Dowd, Lizzy Caplan, Ron Perlman, Chris Noth, Whitney Cummings

See Girl Run

Director: Nate Meyer
Cast: Robin Tunney, Adam Scott, Jeremy Strong, William Sadler

Safety Not Guaranteed

Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni

First up was Frankie Go Boom, an uneven comedy from first time director Jordan Roberts featuring a pretty impressive cast by my standards. Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy fame (a show I have yet to watch) plays Frank, a generally unlucky individual currently living in Death Valley after a series of unfortunate events. These events were at least partially the fault of Bruce, (Chris O’Dowd, a TV veteran but more well known now for his turn in Bridesmaids as Kristen Wigg’s beau), his brother and a socially naive psuedo-moron who likes to record Frank’s every error.

Instead of exploring the brother’s less-than-brotherly relationship (a la Do-Deca-Pentahlon), Roberts, who also wrote the film, chooses to keep Bruce’s inner thoughts and desires distant from the audience. He’s just the annoying jokester brother that Frank has to put up with because, well, they’re brothers. The audience is much more invested in Frank’s new love interest played by the charming Lizzy Caplan (of Party Down fame). After an awkward first encounter and some ill-advised action by, you guessed it, Bruce, the brothers spend the rest of the movie clamoring to correct the mistake.

Also popping up for the ride is Chris Noth, who is most recently popular for his work on The Good Wife and Law and Order, but for me will always be Mr. Big from Sex and the City. Noth plays a formerly famous actor who inexplicably bonds with Bruce in rehab. Noth is... interesting as a boozy, horny, drug-addicted version of himself (I don’t know what Noth is like offscreen, but I imagine he’d be far from this). Though the man seems game for anything, the script doesn’t give him enough goofy material to truly tap into his character’s possibilities.

I’d say that’s a common issue with the film as a whole. Frankie Go Boom wants to be edgy and unexpected, but feels far too formulaic by its end. It’s difficult to invest in the characters considering the love story feels ill-fated from the get go and the brothers don’t seem to be too worried about reconnecting. It has its moments of humor, especially when Ron Perlman shows up as Bruce’s..... altered former cellmate, but they’re too few and far between.

The same cannot be said for the touching and whimsical Safety Not Guaranteed. My colleague Faith Korpi already covered this extremely well in her Day 2 report, so I won’t spend too much time praising it. That being said, it deserves all the hype it can get. I just heard the fantastic news the film is set for a June 8th release in the US, so I’ll try to remind everyone about it closer to its availability. As for now, let me just say it’s a truly impressive piece of storytelling and features terrific lead performances from Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) and, surprisingly, Mark Duplass (The League), who I always saw as a somewhat one-note jokester before this nuanced turn. Keep it in mind for June.

I would not be shocked if Safety Not Guaranteed takes off and becomes the indie hit of summer 2012. However, I would be floored if See Girl Run, featuring Plaza’s Parks and Rec costar Adam Scott, lands on anyone’s theatrical viewing radar. It’s not that the film is poorly made or features bad performances from its cast. It’s simply that Nate Meyer’s anti-rom-com isn’t very fun to watch. In fact, it’s kind of infuriating.

See Girl Run

Scott plays Jason, a struggling artist still pining for his high school sweetheart. Robin Tunney is Emmie, Jason’s former beau (or current -- both characters make a point throughout the movie to mention they never really broke up) and current owner of a doggie day care center in Brooklyn. She’s also married, a fact that neither dampens Jason’s pining or quells Emmie’s desire to reunite with her former/current boyfriend. After Emmie auditions for a reality show based on reintroducing estranged couples, the two former lovers are reconnected. Emmie goes back to her hometown. Will they or won’t they get back together?

A better question would be “Who cares?” Both characters remind me of those pathetic friends who you can’t reason with no matter how self-destructive their ambitions. It’s frustrating to watch unfold, and ultimately unsatisfying in its anti-climactic conclusion. Tunney and Scott both bring an important level of humanity to their roles, but it’s not enough to save See Girl Run from mediocrity. Hopefully both actors will find something more suitable for their significant talents and charming demeanors in future SXSW entries.

So which TV show was best represented by its talent this year? Let’s go to the board!

Film Scorecard:

Parks and Recreation thespians (Aubrey Plaza and Adam Scott):


(9 for Safety + 3 for See Girl Run /2 = 6)

Sons of Anarchy thespians (Charlie Hunnam and Ron Perlman):


The Good Girl thespians (See Girl Run costars Josh Hamilton and Jeremy Strong both appeared briefly on Girl along with Chris Noth):


(3 for See Girl Run + 5 for Frankie Go Boom /2 = 4)

And the winner is Parks and Recreation! I should have known the best TV show would win.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.