The pithiest review possible for many a movie is a single word — “forgettable.”
Add “instantly” in front of that and you get an idea of the virtues of “Little Boxes.”
It’s soooooo familiar that I know I’ve seen it before, and I NEVER see a movie without taking notes on it and reviewing it. Ok, plainly “ALMOST never” is true.
But nothing from this, and I’m a Melanie Lynskey fan. Just vague recollections of the “oh, yeah” variety as I re-watched it.
The plot elements are weary tropes — New York family moves to a small college town in Washington state and copes with moving company delays, a house with mold, a middle school son (Armani Jackson) taken from “blerd” (black nerd) to sexualized teen by the tweenage tarts down the street, an art faculty at the college where the feminist wife/mom (Melanie Lynskey) which believes in meeting over “a liquid lunch” and an African American writer-husband (Nelsan Ellis) who gets profiled — repeatedly — by the well-meaning “liberal” locals.
The best line is directed at the writer. “If you close your eyes, you can’t even tell he’s black!”
The unkindest cut comes from the too-friendly drama teacher, whose fallopian trio of tenure track drinkers get Lynskey’s Gena — “the new hire” (photography, with a “gender informativity” focus) — sloshed. And then comes the slurred “getting sloppy in a small town” lecture from said dramaturg (Janeane Garofalo).
The kid? His exotic good looks and epic Afro have the little lily white girls (Oona Laurence, ringleader) gushing “We like, TOTALLY needed a black kid…This town is sooo white!”
Director Rob Meyer can’t gin up much comic interest in the slow-motion movie where all these characters and plot elements lope — not “hurtle” — towards that moment when the wheels totally come off.
There’s a funny movie in the “big city sophisticates SHOCKED by the transgressive nonsense that goes on in a small (college) town.” This isn’t it.
MPAA Rating: Unrated, substance abuse (pills, alcohol), sexuality and profanity involving tweens.
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Oona Laurence, Janeane Garofalo, Veanne Cox and Christine Taylor
Credits: Directed by Rob Meyer, script by Annie J. Howell. A Gunpowder & Sky/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:24