A few months after his fiancé Rachel (Alison Brie) commits suicide on his birthday, Joshy (Thomas Middleditch) decides he still wants to go away with his friends for the weekend that was supposed to be his bachelor party. Not all of Joshy’s friends are as keen on the idea as he is, and many of the friends abandon the plans. Not wanting Joshy to be alone, Ari (Adam Pally), Adam (Alex Ross Perry), Eric (Nick Kroll), and Eric’s friend Greg (Brett Gelman), all decide to join Joshy out at the weekend house in Ojai. Once the group comes together, it becomes apparent that Joshy is not the only one going through crisis and change.
Ari is a new father who wants to use the weekend to try and recapture the life he had before marriage and a baby. Adam finds himself newly single after being in a relationship for the past ten years. Eric is married but has found that he’d rather have sex with other people, lots of other people. And Greg who is a last-minute addition to the party is dealing with his marriage falling apart after a sex scandal that involved a number of his young female employees. However, all the guys attempt to put aside their problems to support Joshy and make the weekend about him.
Joshy is a film that deals with the aftermath of a huge loss and the deep grief that comes with it. As a character, Joshy does not say much throughout the first part of the film and much of the action happens to him. This is a beautiful visual representation of how life happens to a person who is in deep grieving. While the person may physically be present, mentally and emotionally they are somewhere else. Middleditch really embodies this present-but-absentee space in playing Joshy. His facial expressions and physicality really say what the character is not saying. It is apparent that Joshy is numb and just existing instead of participating in life.
Then there are the friends and the loved ones of the person who experienced the loss. They are either trying to cheer up the grieving person or trying not to bring up the loss at all. This is the struggle that Joshy’s friends battle throughout the film.
While Ari, Adam, Greg, and Eric are trying their best to turn the weekend into a good time, Aaron (Joe Swanberg), his wife Anita (Kris Swanberg), and his son Jude (Jude Swanberg) show up on the second day of the guys’ weekend with the intent to have a healing and serious time with Joshy. Eric is not going to let the guys’ weekend get turned into a grief-counseling retreat and this causes conflict between Eric and Aaron. After they hash it out on the balcony, Aaron and his family repack the car and leave the boys to their party.
This group of scenes really capture how people differ on how they should care for grieving loved ones. While Eric and Aaron both want what they believe is the best for Joshy, neither one of them bothers to actually ask Joshy what he wants or what he needs. This type of thing happens to those who are grieving all the time. The people that love them work off of assumptions and good intentions that often do more harm than good.
This film not only deals with the themes of grief and loss but with the themes of recapturing youth and spontaneity. These themes come to light when the guys go out to the local bar and Ari meets Jodi (Jenny Slate), a women who is in Ojai with her friends to celebrate her 30th birthday. After Ari tries to hook up Jodi and Joshy without success, Jodi and Ari end up discovering that they may have known each other as children and connect over a shared past. The story that unfolds between Ari and Jodi is the subplot to the film.
I know my close reading of this film has revealed some of the plot points, but I promise I have not spoiled this fantastic film. I have left out plenty and just set you up for the rest. This film is not only funny, with great moments of dark comedy, but this film also has some really moving moments as well.
While the main plot points of this film were scripted, the majority of the film is improvised. This talented group of comedic actors not only show their emotional depth in this film, but they demonstrate their incredible mastery of improvisation as well. Besides the aforementioned actors, Joshy has supporting appearances by Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, Paul Reiser, Lauren Graham, and Lisa Edelstein.
The Blu-ray and Digital HD combo includes audio commentary with writer/director Jeff Baena, actor/producer Adam Pally, and actor Thomas Middleditch as well as deleted scenes. The audio commentary was really enjoyable. Baena confirms my thoughts on the themes of this film and Baena, Pally, and Middleditch not only reveal great behind-the-scenes details, but they have a good time with one another cracking jokes and doing bits.
Joshy is out now and is available On Demand, DVD, and Blu-ray.The film is rated R and runs 93 minutes.