AFI Review: Fits and Starts
“Fits and Starts” tells the story of a married couple who also happen to be two writers. One is a successful one, J.M. Lee or Jennifer Lee (played by Greta Lee) pounding out book after book, while the other is a former rising star now struggling to even finish one book writer, David Warwik (played by Wyatt Cenac). The couple is struggling, to say the least, particularly because of the unequal success in between them and outsiders constantly giving their opinions on their relationship with comments like “oh you can’t have two artists in a relationship.”
In order to sort of push her husband into getting out of his rut, Jennifer decides they should go to this salon or artist’s retreat at her publisher’s mansion in Connecticut. There David can read a piece of his writing in front of everyone and hopefully catch some heat again or impress other publishers or agents at the salon, but things don’t go according to plan.
David forgets the wine, the car rental place is just a drunk guy on the side of the road in Queens, and that is just the beginning of the night which turns into a series of unfortunate events. It looks like nothing is going in their favor. After an argument at a convenience store leaves the two of them separated and Jennifer doesn’t believe in phones so she doesn’t have one (but she does have an iPad with her, yeah I don’t get that either), David decides to go to the party solo. One can guess that is not the best decision and, without spoiling anything more, the bad events continue to happen there.
The film is a mixture of laugh out loud moments and “wtf?” moments, this film leaves you seesawing. Sure, there are some jokes that are really laugh out loud, but it felt they would abuse that and just shove too many jokes into one conversation or with one character. The comedy seemed forced not so much genuine. Similar to the acting, at first Cenac’s deadpan reactions seem understandable and relatable but towards the end you want to shout “Wake up!’ Or “React more!” to his character.
Ultimately, you have to accept that it is an exaggerated romantic comedy. The characters and situations aren’t supposed to be normal but funny and perhaps satirical to rich “artists” of the world. The ending is sweet and makes up for some of the wacky and forced comedic situations the story took to get there. Overall, the film is entertaining but you won’t be missing out if you didn’t watch it.