Looking at Jason Bateman‘s filmography over the past five years, there’s a mix of comedies, ranging in quality and style, but he plays an everyman in just about all of them. It seems as if he hit his stride with Arrested Development, and he’s been cast as the non-threatening, generally handsome but relatable, nice guy about to boil over ever since. It’s a role in which Bateman definitely excels, often bringing subtleties to each similar-feeling character. That isn’t the case in The Longest Week.
Bateman stars in Peter Glanz‘s film as Conrad Valmont, an adult child whose affluent, loveless upbringing has turned him into a self-obsessed, womanizing pseudo-intellectual. When he’s kicked out of his family’s Manhattan Hotel, he’s forced to stay with his only friend, Dylan (Billy Crudup), who’s similarly full of himself but more addicted to monogamy. The two have competed through the entirety of their friendship, and now they’re fighting over the affections of Beatrice (Olivia Wilde), a model who enters their lives in standard rom-com stride.
The film opens with Conrad at his expensive family psychiatrist’s, explaining his sexual desire for only women he doesn’t enjoy being around. Between the frank discussion, sophisticated set decoration and swanky music, one immediately feels like they’re watching a sub-par Woody Allen film. The self-indulgent banter and potent chemistry between characters is certainly there for the film’s duration, due largely in part to the magnetic likability that Bateman, Crudup and Wilde bring to their roles, however, Longest Week is sorely lacking in what makes Allen films ultimately worth the snobbery – a purpose or a point.
The only person in Conrad’s life that seems to have any kind of handle on reality is Jocelyn (Jenny Slate), one of Beatrice’s friends. She points out the ludicrous nature of the grandiose crowd at a ritzy show they attend, and the other characters treat her like that annoying friend who always ruins the party by bringing up a far-away genocide while everyone’s trying to have fun. Whether her character is supposed to be poking genuine fun at the movie as a whole is unclear, but the amount of screen time Slate is given isn’t enough to bring the airy film back to Earth, even if she’s meant to act as a self-aware anchor.
Conrad’s overall lack of redeeming features have already been explored in depth by many other superior films (frequently those written by Allen), making his childlike nature and excessive behavior fatiguing to watch. Not even Bateman’s charms can make it easier to support such a character, though his appeal and comic timing does work well next to Crudup and Wilde. The scenes that pair these characters make The Longest Week watchable.
Glanz’s attempts to make a highbrow film are so desperate and obvious that one longs for an everyman Jason Bateman once again. Skip this film and go re-watch Midnight in Paris if you’re looking for something analytical, or God forbid, even Bateman’s The Switch, instead.
The Upside: The incredible chemistry between Jason Bateman, Billy Crudup, and Olivia Wilde
The Downside: Total pandering and overwhelming snobbery; frustrating underuse of Jenny Slate
On the Side: The Longest Week is the first film from YRF Entertainment, a Los Angeles subsidiary of India’s premiere indie studio, Yash Raj Films Limited