Tony Hale is lovable and funny as a loser Facebooking Elizabeth Banks.
In the new independent comedy “Eat Wheaties,” Tony Hale is absolutely fun as a loser, who wants to prove to his co-workers and friends that he knew an actress in college. I met the actor a few years ago, after the success of his Forky character in “Toy Story 4,” and those of you might be familiar with his other roles on “Veep,” and “Arrested Development.” As both a human and cartoon character, he really has the comedy goods that makes him so talented. And in this movie, he has a personal touch that makes him so likable.
Hale plays Sid Straw, a sad software office worker in Arizona, who has been invited to become the co-chair of his upcoming college reunion at the University of Pennsylvania. In order to be fully qualified, he joins Facebook for the first time. When he begins looking for friends, he finds out that Elizabeth Banks-the Elizabeth Banks-also went to Penn. So, he begins stalking her on Facebook,-sending her messages ending with “Eat Wheaties,” and asking her agent Frankie Riceborough (Sarah Chalke from “Roseanne” and “Rick & Morty”) to send him an autograph photo of her.
All these messages prompt the agent to file a restraining order against him, and all the messages he left for Banks were posted publicly. He’s new to Facebook, so how could he realize that? Regardless, he now has a lot on his plate, regarding his job and appearances.
The supporting cast includes Sarah Burns as Sid’s would-be girlfriend Kate, David Walton as his handsome and supportive brother Tom, Lamorne Morris as his co-worker Sam, Alan Tudyk as a more successful alumni named Duncan, Danielle Brooks as a nice waitress, Elisha Chubert as Tom’s expecting wife, and Paul Walter Hauser as a lawyer Sid considers hiring, despite some hiccups.
“Eat Wheaties” is based on a 2003 book called “The Locklear Letters,” which was about Sid Straw trying to prove he knew Heather Locklear in college. In this movie version, written and directed by Scott Abramovitch, the story has been updated for the social media era, and it delivers with an honest vibe.
The third act has to be negative with Sid being rejected from various job positions, which seems obligatory, but most of it works, because of the comedy presented by Hale, who is also sweet and lovable in the role. You feel bad for the lonely life he has, and you want him to overcome his challenges. And once we get through them, the motivation kicks in, not to give away anything.
Hale also has some charming supporting work from Walton, Tudyk, Brooks, and Hauser, who all play their characters with timing and precision, and the movie, itself, proves he doesn’t always needs to be commercialized to be liked by his fans. He expands his horizons, and earns our attention spans. The movie is shot very bright, which reflects its tone, and gives the main protagonist his character study, and tickles us when we least expect it.
To close this review, I was reminded a bit of “Ingrid Goes West,” in which Aubrey Plaza stalked a girl on Instagram. “Eat Wheaties” is not that dangerous potential, but it’s jolly on its own terms.