by Ali Coad, Senior Editor
At the crux of Lake Bell’s sophomore feature, ”I Do… Until I Don’t,” we have a question that recurs and plagues many indie-rom-com movies: is marriage some arcane, no-longer-relevant idea invented by the caveman or is a marriage something worthwhile that can actually endure because of, you know, love? The title of the film is slightly misleading in that, at the end of it, all of our characters, who in the opening scenes were wildly unhappy with themselves and their romantic partners, somehow, miraculously, walk away congenial and happy and holding hands.
But let’s start at the beginning. Lake Bell. She’s got comedic chops, that’s something that few can deny; every film or show or clip in which she appears is made better and funnier simply in having her there. Her timing is impeccable, as is her delivery. Her directorial debut, “In A World” highlighted all the best parts of her as an actress and comedian, which is why my hopes where moon high for “I Do… Until I Don’t.” In this film, she plays Alice, a bored and washed-out housewife who abandoned her flimsy dreams of becoming a New York artist to marry her cardboard husband, Noah, played by the generally pretty funny Ed Helms. But here’s the kicker, not for one minute did I buy the fact that these two characters loved each other in a platonic-plus way. Which would have been fine, if the title was apt, but it’s not so in the end, we’re supposed to root and cheer and holler for them and their kindled romance.
Again, I get ahead of myself. As far as plot, we have Vivian (Dolly Wells) a documentarian posing the question that I posed at the beginning of this write up: is marriage dead? She makes an emboldened claim that solid marriages should only last five years and for the remainder of the film proceeds to dig up trouble-tied couples, like Noah and Alice, and heckle them into proving her hypothesis true. But just like any good, rom-com, romance prevails.
“I Do… Until I Don’t” lacks nearly everything (minus Lake Bell, of course) that made “In A World” so dreamy and nostalgic and great. The characters lack motivation, their choices and actions are sporadic and inconsistent, there’s little chemistry and the plot itself feels misaligned. It’s like we’re all in on some joke or riddle but we’ve forgotten entirely about the punch line, so it turns into some odd game of tense and impatient waiting. Lake Bell is, to me, comedy gold, so I’ll continue to follow her career with a magnifying glass; “I Do… Until I Don’t,” however, is a movie where normal, distanced vision would work just fine.
2.5 of 5 Stars