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With Jim Sabatini

I Do... Until I Don't

I Do... Until I Don't
Dolly Wells, Ed Helms, Amber Heard, Wyatt Cenac and Mary Steenburgen

Rated: R for sexual material and language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: September 1, 2017 Released by: The Film Arcade

Lake Bell's second feature is surprisingly stodgy and plebeian after her 2013 delightfully nifty voiceover comedy In a World...

The writer/director even has ellipses in her latest moniker I Do...Until I Don't taking a hominine facet of a 'sacred' institution (in adult fashion) with some heart and not much perceived humor until an upbeat conclusion that really isn't earned.

The attenuated tale centers around three couples under the auspice of a documentarian (Dolly Wells) preaching that marriage should be a seven-year contract with an option to renew (sounds like what you hear as a legal clause in pro sports circles).

Bell's Alice decides to take the plunge along with nebbish bespectacled hubby Noah (Ed Helms). It gets more complicated when loose younger sister Fanny (Amber Heard) and partner Zander (Wyatt Cenac) join in to analyze their unrestricted connection. The stages are completed with aging middle-agers Harvey (Paul Reiser) and Cybill (Mary Steenburgen) perhaps in the most soulless of union of all in a state of friction (including financial, of course). The documentary angle really doesn't have much flair about it if older cineastes recall Albert Brooks' oeuvre, and maybe centering on one couple like Harvey and Cybill could have offered more trenchant insight.

The anxiety and situations which ensue appear to have a nod to an icon like Woody Allen, but with light chuckles if any as, for example, Harvey and Alice have an awkward encounter after Cybill provides him with a comforting opportunity. The latter portion of I Do rebounds in somewhat amusing, heartrending fashion (like 'widespread panic'), but Bell just can't showcase any of the distinctive voice and poise from her debut. Until she doesn't make those all-too-common stereotypical gaffes again (which hopefully she won't next time around).

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I Do... Until I Don't        D+                        D+ 

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