Character actor Paul Schneider earns a great showcase for his quirky brand of befuddled reserve in “Goodbye to All That,” an offbeat romance about sudden divorce, hiding in the past and “getting back out there” in a dating scene twisted by social media into a Golden Age of the Hook Up.
It’s the directing debut of Angus MacLachlan, who wrote “Junebug” and thus gave Amy Adams the perfect introduction to the world. “Goodbye” displays the same canny ear for human interactions, both comical and confessional.
Otto Wall is a happy-go-lucky soul, but a clumsy one, too. We meet Otto (Paul Schneider) as he takes a tumble at the end of his latest 10K race.
No worries. He has a nice house, a pretty wife (Melanie Lynskey of TV’s “Two and a Half Men”) and a precocious nine year-old daughter (Audrey P. Scott). He kisses the kid good night, and he stubs his toe. He limps to his bedroom and stubs it again. They go offroading in the woods of Pilot Mountain, N.C., and their four-wheeler flips. Hospital time.
“Why do these things happen to Daddy?” the kid wants to know.
“He doesn’t pay attention.”
So even as Otto is ignoring dire warnings about letting his injured foot recover before running again, the marriage that he hasn’t paid attention to unravels.
“Meet me at my therapist’s.”
“You have a therapist?”
The shrink (Celia Weston) doesn’t even pretend to be impartial — “Your marriage is over.” No discussion, no debate, no counseling. Boom. Take it up with her lawyer.
“You have a LAWYER?”
What follows is Otto’s serio-comic spiral into this new reality — moving out, having visitation arrangements imposed on him rather than negotiated. Schneider brilliantly acts out that magical moment anyone who has broken up in the Facebook Era has experienced — a chilling relationship status change (and discovering what the wife was up to, and who she was up to). Otto leaps up, knocking over his chair, his eyes still locked on that blue and white screen of betrayal.
MacLachlan serves up some seriously funny twists on the digital dating scene — the old flame (Heather Graham) into post-divorce casual sex, the OKCupid hook-up that leads to strange, naked sexting-aloud sex (with a hilariously sexy Ashley Hinshaw), and meeting the kinkier-than-you’d-think churchgoer. Anna Camp’s Biblical bi-polar case, Debbie Spangler, plays like a riotously ribald variation on Adams’ adorable “Junebug” character.
Amy Sedaris (an overly friendly boss) and Heather Lawless (a camp crush) flesh out other potential romances that might too easily have turned into caricatures.
“Goodbye to All That” is a slight story covering overly-familiar ground. But Schneider (“Elizabethtown,” “Lars and the Real Girl”) is terrific as a man perpetually on his heels, and tripping over them, lonely even if Social Media means he is never truly alone or long between hook-ups. In his hands, Otto becomes EveryDivorcedMan — lost, overmatched, bullied and yet suspecting, deep-down, that something he did or did not pay attention to was his real undoing.
MPAA Rating: unrated, with nudity, explicit sex, profanity
Cast: Paul Schneider, Melanie Lynskey, Heather Graham, Audrey P. Scott, Celia Weston
Credits: Written and directed by Angus MacLachlan. An IFC release.
Running time: 1:23
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