*1/2 (out of four)
I agree with Chicago native Jeff Garlin: Many people are stupid. Yet in the star/director/co-writer’s “Dealin’ with Idiots,” Max (Garlin) makes no effort to understand the lunacy around him. He merely stands on the fringes with an irritated smirk and grumbles about the behavior demonstrated by parents of kids on his son’s baseball team.
And, in fact, Max brings most of it on himself. The comedian engages with each parent individually as research for a possible film project based the exaggerated personalities of the parents and coaches he constantly looks down on. This leads to numerous scenes in which Max hangs out with the dimwitted coach (Bob Odenkirk) or the dullest man ever (Richard Kind) or lesbian moms (Gina Gershon, Kerri Kenney-Silver) and doesn’t try to meet anyone halfway. These characters are irritating, yes, and the comedy’s pitched at a high level that would make anyone grow uneasy. Still, there’s not much point in making a film about how different and dumb people are without giving the judgmental, one-man Greek chorus his own legitimate comeuppance.
Not surprisingly, that’s not in the cards here. Garlin creates some funny moments (like people who see real life as a game of shirts and skins), and his imagined conversations with his late father (Timothy Olyphant) register as one of many reasons Max was happier as a kid. It’s fair to consider how people’s personal lives impact their public behavior, but even when I laughed at “Idiots” I still found the film annoying and smug, not to mention creepily objectifying of the hot nanny (Hope Dworaczyk) that Max ogles at the games but gives no chance to develop as a person. Max also embarrasses a foreigner who has never before seen a baseball game.
Max proves to be no smarter or better than those around him, but he’s too busy huffing and puffing and chuckling to notice he subscribes to the hypocrisy he condemns. That’s not the point of the movie, it’s the problem. Hey, pot? It’s the kettle, and it’s for you.
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