Most Indies aren’t mean-spirited or sappy, and that pleases me. But “Dean,” a would-be comedy written, directed by and starring Demetri Martin, offers those two negativities. It’s a shame that as much as you like the main character, you have to dislike almost everybody else.
Martin plays Dean, an illustrator, who published one book, and has been running away from his biggest problem: losing his mother. His father (Kevin Kline) is more motivated about life than he is, and decides to sell their house. Looking for an excuse to get out of Brooklyn, Dean decides to hit L.A., where he falls for a woman (Gillian Jacobs), whose name “starts with “N” and ends with “icky”.”
I heard laughs in the 7pm New York screening, but I felt the sense of humor was mostly out of place, and at other times, it’s mean. I also felt that other than one heartwarming moment between Martin and Kline, their story was kind of sappy. Their performances are fine, but the movie is weak. And the least likable character in the movie is the girlfriend (Briga Heelan) of a vampire actor, who accuses Dean of hitting on her, when it’s her hitting on him. Who asked for this kind of character? I ask you.
Is “Dean” a terrible movie? No, because with Martin’s performance, it has the potential to be a fresh Indie about running away from your problems; but it just wastes that potential on the most tedious jokes and narrative.