No matter how adult, rational and organized you think you are, you cannot save somebody from himself. And yet we try. If only to prove to ourselves we’ve made an effort, we try.
“6 Balloons” is a short, sharp and contemplative drama about addiction and the one person who thinks she can prop her brother, the addict, up.
Abbi Jacobson of TV’s “Broad City” shows her dramatic chops as Katie, finicky, organized, the sort of person who listens to self-help books on tape — “You had a chance to stay on dry land, but you’re going to the boat again…You never asked for help, even when it was offered to you” — to get her through whatever.
She’s got a new boyfriend, an adoring dad (Tim Matheson) and a manic mom (Jane Kaczmarek) all-too-eager to binge-shop to help her plan a surprise birthday party for that beau and all their friends.
But somebody’s “got to pick up your brother.” They keep mentioning it and Katie, checking off things on the Post-it note tacked to the car radio, is trying to put it off.
Dave Franco is Seth. He’s usually “the grinning Franco brother,” but here he’s the sleepy-eyed one. He’s got that sibling thing of picking on his sister’s choice in men.
“Jack is such a B-minus.”
Katie’s noticed he hasn’t answered his mail.
“You stopped opening your mail last time, too.”
She knows. “Could you just roll up your sleeves? Show me your arm!”
Seth is a single dad (“You picked THIS moment in your life to become a parent?”) and an addict. Katie finds herself, on the night of this very important party, dealing with a brother she needs to get into rehab and a talkative toddler (Charlotte Carel) on her hands.
Writer-director Marja-Lewis Ryan squeezes nothing but truth into her 76 minute movie. Real situations, hard real-life dilemmas. Seth’s insurance doesn’t cover this rehab place. Maybe this other one, downtown? Little Ella needs attention and a bathroom.
And there’s this party Katie is desperate to get back to. She’s going to take care of everything. She can have what she needs and put a band-aid on Seth, too.
As dramas go, “6 Balloons” is compact to the point of “slight” — in ideas, themes and length. It begins melancholy, spirals into dread and despair and makes a grab for hope.
Franco veers from somnambulistic to hyperactive. But it is Jacobson we identify with, the one who wants to do the fixing, the one desperate to get and keep something normal in her life, the one who tries and the one who still cares.
As much as you want to slap this Franco (too), it is Abbi Jacobson’s Katie that you want to give a hug and give a hand to.
MPAA Rating: unrated, drug abuse subject matter, profanity
Cast: Abbi Jacobson, Dave Franco, Jane Kaczmarek, Tim Matheson, Charlotte Carel
Credits: Written and directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan . A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:16