Director: Daisy von Schuler Mayer
Stars: Adam Brody, Kristen Bell
1 (out of 5) Globe
“Some Girl(s)” is more canned misanthropy from playwright Neil LaBute, who poisoned art house cinemas to great acclaim in the late 1990s with toxic stunts like “In the Company of Men” and “Your Friends and Neighbors.” A scolding graduate of Brigham Young University, LaBute’s schtick is all about men behaving badly, with him writing the meanest, most misogynistic monologues that young actors tend to tear into like catnip. But his wicked worldview is pathetically limited. There’s no sympathy for these devils; his work is just cut-rate “Carnal Knowledge.”
LaBute’s film career crashed and burned years ago with the unintentional Nicolas Cage camp classic “The Wicker Man,” leaving his noxious exhortations quarantined to undiscriminating off-Broadway patrons. Director Daisy von Schuler Mayer’s “Some Girl(s)” is barely adapted from LaBute’s 2005 play of the same name, starring “The O.C.”’s Adam Brody as a semi-successful short story author who quotes liberally from his own reviews, particularly one that called him “a cartographer of the human soul.”
Lacking a name and billed in the credits only as “Man” — because this movie is nothing if not absurdly pretentious — Brody travels cross-country from Seattle to Boston and then back again, tracking down numerous ex-girlfriends. He’s about to get married and claims to be seeking closure, but in reality they just meet up in visually tiresome non-descript hotel rooms where he carries on like a gaseous hypocrite until these lovely ladies eventually beg to have sex with him.
Brody is a charmless scoundrel, volleying verbally back and forth with the likes of bombshell Mia Maestro and dowdy Jennifer Morrison. They exhaustively detail his endless shortcomings as both a lover and a man before breathlessly beckoning him to bed. Then they’re rejected, because this is that kind of movie.
The great Emily Watson gets stuck wearing a blue bra under a sheer white blouse, demanding carnal karmic payback while her husband sits outside in a Subaru. The stasis is momentarily shaken by a lacerating turn from Zoe Kazan as Brody’s childhood pal’s kid sister Reggie, who he molested just one day shy of her twelfth birthday. Her scene hurts.
“Some Girl(s)” builds to an allegedly soul-bearing confrontation with Kristin Bell, a blank slate of an actress who seems to have serious trouble articulating LaBute’s convoluted wordplay. Director von Schuler Mayer keeps the proceedings cramped, airless and as sterile as these interchangeable hotel rooms. This movie is an ordeal.