“The Incoherents,” a comedy about four pushing-50 white New Yorkers “getting the band back together,” has the perfect, dismissive put-down for Generation X.
Because if “OK, Boomer” is out there, why should the MTV Kids get off Scot-free?
A post-punk “alt rock” band trying to crash into a scene where 20something hipsters raised on whatever the hell “the kids are listening to these days” has got to be read to take its lumps, right? So the hipster lead to Sex in HD challenges the middle-aged men following his act on stage with the only insult that matters.
“Here we are now, entertain us.”
In an otherwise drab, light but not-quite-humorous misfire of a Midlife Crisis Comedy, the lone really good line stands out.
Bruce (Jeff Auer, who also wrote the script) is married, with a suburban split-level and the two kids that come with that, a paralegal whose amusingly tone-deaf boss (Robert G. McKay) and all the younger people on the staff think nothing of dumping all their work on him.
But in his dreams, he’s got David Coverdale hair, groupies — the works. Odd, because back in the ’90s, The Incoherents were more of a Soundgarden/Replacements that never made it. Big hair never figured into it.
Bruce’s midlife crisis needs an understanding wife (Kate Arrington), who’d like to re-enter the work force as a graphic designer. Bruce can’t see it, but myopia is one of the symptoms of “mid-life crisis.”
Drummer Tyler (Casey Clark) is losing his mind, playing for weddings in Hoboken (where much of this was shot, even though it’s set in New York). His brother, Keith (Walter Hoffman), the bassist, is comfortably miserable working in city planning and zoning. So “The Hamiltons” are back in.
But convincing guitarist Jimmy (Alex Emmanuel) is the hard part. He’s the one who wanted it the most, the one most hurt by lead-singer Bruce’s “plan B” bail-out over 20 years before. Jimmy has a bar, “just booze and music, the basics” he tells a caller who wants to book it for a reception. Music memorabilia covers the walls, including his guitars.
Will he take them down off that wall for “one last shot?”
Not enough is made of the quixotic nature of the bandmates’ quest, of the disconnect between their lives “now” and what they guys are trying to recapture.
Regaining their sound is effortless. Just a rehearsal or two (’80s movie fixture Annette O’Toole is the cackling cynic who rents rehearsal studios to suckers like The Incoherents) and they’re on stage, revisiting their “hits.”
O’Toole and McKay are cast members who make the most colorful impressions. The band members have a moment, here and there, but are generally colorless.
The tunes are serviceable, but too far-removed from their time to feel relevant and not far-enough removed to seem “fresh.”
“Big bellies of pigs…can neeevvveerrr be full” doesn’t have fan-following built into it.
And that’s kind of the point, that their type of music, and the “club dates/record deal/wide exposure/fame and riches” music model is gone. This discussion, a big part of the third act with their blunt, bluff, dinosaur of a manager (Vincent Palmberti) and a legendary promoter (Amy Carlson of TV’s “Blue Bloods”) having to explain music in the social media era to these Gen X fossils.
That’s more interesting than amusing. Bruce’s office life is more standard issue comedy fodder, but the jokes there are thin and that story under-developed, as is the family friction that this musical midlife crisis engenders.
It’s not awful, and not utterly “incoherent.” But the comedy isn’t broad enough to come off, and white male midlife wish-fulfillment fantasy (Jimmy’s pursued by a fetching Boston blogger/band-booker half his age) is seriously passé.
“The Incoherents,” as a “getting the band back together” comedy, was never going to amount to much more than an idle, not-unpleasant movie you sit through, but don’t really enjoy.
In movies, and in bands, you ignore the challenge inherent in a put-down at your own peril. “Here we are now, entertain us.”
MPAA Rating: unrated, sexual situations, alcohol, profanity
Cast: Jeff Auer, Kate Arrington, Alex Emmanuel, Casey Clark, Robert G. McKay, Walter Hoffman, Vincent Palmberti and Annette O’Toole.
Credits: Directed by Jared Barel, script by Jeff Auer. A Loaded Barrel release.
Running time: 1:43