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by Jay Seaver

"At that stage where things could go either way."
3 stars

"Nesting" is a nice enough little indie comedy that does nobody any harm and has the occasional pretty decent moment. That's a nice starting point, but the movie could use a little bit more of everything, from resources to rewrites.

Neil (Todd Grinnell) and Sarah (Ali Hillis) have been married a few years, just long enough that Neil is starting to wonder when the fun girl he married became the yuppie with the fancy coffee machine and planning to redecorate their house. Since this work is going to require them to be out of the house for a few days, they decide to go on a vacation that detours through their old neighborhood, leading (as it does) to them breaking into their old apartment.

Writer/director John Chuldenko doesn't have a bad idea here; the characters start at a place that many at that age will find familiar and the premise of trying to return to their old lives with potentially disastrous results is kind of clever. Unfortunately, Chuldenko doesn't seem to have developed it nearly as well as he could have. The "marriages often fall apart at the 'nesting' stage" theme is laid out baldly but not strongly in the first act, and the end doesn't really have a strong statement on the subject. There's also a weirdly materialist streak to the end that doesn't necessarily sit right.

The big picture has its issues, but Chuldenko does come up with some neat details. There's a fun, off-beat sequence at the beginning that involves Neil taking advantage of his unusual job; the middle section where Neil and Sarah have a series of odd misadventures in their old neighborhood has a bunch of nifty single-use characters and odd situations that are good for a chuckle. There's a number of pretty good lines in there. There are also a few bits where the filmmakers' ambition exceeds their capabilities - it's probably not the best idea to mention a comically large disaster (and pictures of it) if you don't have the budget to actually show it. And while a montage at a certain point would have been a cliché worth mocking, the moment does need something showing us that people are doing stuff.

The cast is all right, all things considered. Todd Grinnell's delivery tends toward the sitcom, telling a joke as much as speaking dialogue, and he's kind of limited by material that doesn't exactly give him the widest range of emotions to go through, although he does pithy well. Ali Hillis winds up making the movie her own, especially once we've seen that she, too, yearns for the more carefree life of her youth. She's quite a charmer as her old self comes out, and not because her other scenes have been made overly stern to compensate. Erin Chambers is also pretty appealing as Neil's ex, although Kevin Linehan is somewhat hit-and-miss as Neil's not-very-good-lawyer buddy.

There's enough good pieces to "Nesting" that a few more would have made for a movie worth recommending as a buried gem - or a movie that doesn't get buried in the first place. Instead, it has trouble rising high enough for long enough to really be noteworthy, even if it never sinks particularly far in the other direction.

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originally posted: 05/12/12 15:26:53
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  11-May-2012 (PG-13)



Directed by
  John Chuldenko

Written by
  John Chuldenko

  Todd Grinnell
  Ali Hillis
  Kevin Linehan
  Erin Chambers
  Erin Gray

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