Literally, Right Before Aaron | Ryan Eggold | September 29th, 2017
Most romantic comedies follow a pretty basic formula. A guy or a girl falls for someone and has to overcome their personal flaws in order to finally win over the heart of their beloved. Some romantic comedies try to break that mold. 500 Days of Summer told a romantic story in a painfully realistic way. It delved into expectations and fears that appear at the beginning of any new relationship. Literally, Right Before Aaron tries to do something a little different, but it fails on almost every storytelling level.
Justin Long plays Adam, an insecure guy who gets a phone call from his ex-girlfriend Allison (Cobie Smulders). Allison is getting married and wants Adam to be at her wedding. Adam reluctantly agrees to attend and, for the first few scenes, he hopelessly wonders why he even agreed to go. His friend Mark (a wasted John Cho) tells him that he’s crazy to attend. Well, there wouldn’t be a movie if Adam just said “no thanks.” He travels to San Francisco, and so begins a series of highly unpleasant scenes with even more unpleasant characters.
This is the major problem with Literally, Right Before Adam. Almost every scene just oozes with awkward and sometimes even downright nasty dialogue. When Adam first arrives to his hotel, the concierge openly makes fun of him for getting a room for 1. At a pre-wedding party, Adam tries to interact with Allison’s friends, and they’re all terrible people. They either ignore him, or blatantly mock him for even being there. All the interactions with these awful people would be worthwhile if there was some type of redemption arc for Adam. That’s the problem though. Adam also begins to show his narcissistic self throughout the film. It becomes impossible to even feel bad for him.
I have tried to remember the last time I saw a film with a cast of characters this unlikable. Cobie Smulders and Justin Long do a fine job with the lines that they have, but we never really see why he loves her so much. There are flashbacks, but it’s not enough to learn much about them. There isn’t even a reason given for why they broke up in the first place. The rest of the film takes place at Allison’s wedding. Her fiancee Aaron is everything that Adam is not. He is an overachiever and everyone seems to love him. This brings out Adam’s jealousy, which boils to a ridiculous level.
Adam brings character actress Kristen Schaal as his plus one, but she isn’t given much to do. The laughs in Literally, Right Before Aaron are sparse. It’s more cringe-worthy humor that is more uncomfortable than funny. Adam and Allison’s mothers are the only non-confrontational characters in the entire film. Director Ryan Eggold has written a rather odd and irritating film here. Justin Long has some good lines here and there, but his character is way too mopey and hard to sympathize with. If there is a lesson that Adam learns in this film, I couldn’t tell you what it is.