On the Count of Three

Jerrod Carmichael’s funny and effective directorial debut about suicide and unfinished business.

Jerrod Carmichael, best known for his comedic roles in “Neighbors” and “The Carmichael Show,” makes his directorial debut of the suicide comedy “On the Count of Three.” It’s a “suicide comedy,” because he plays Val, while Christopher Abbott plays his friend Kevin, both of whom decide to end their lives at the same time on the same day.

It’s impossible for me to imagine the pain suicidal people go through, but I still believe that they can give themselves a second chance at life, if they only tried. But then again, I probably would be told: “You don’t know.” I’d respond: “You’re right. I don’t know, but I do care about you.” Seeing these two characters on screen is an examination on what life has resorted them to, and how they must settle some unfinished business before going out with a bang. No offense.

Val quits his job and breaks up with his pregnant girlfriend Vanessa (Tiffany Haddish), while Kevin is in a mental hospital after a failed attempt. To pull of the double suicide, the former must break the latter free from the hospital. But the movie doesn’t end there, because Kevin wants to have a perfect last day being alive-live like there’s literarily no tomorrow without any consequences.

They decide to take care of the psychiatrist who molested Kevin (Henry Winkler), confront Val’s abusive father (JB Smoove), and try to patch things up with his ex. You’re expecting some sympathy or a personality check, or you’re probably expecting the opposite. I had to see for myself, and like the hopeful individual, I hope good things will come out.

I won’t spoil anything for you, but “On the Count of Three” has to end on a downbeat with one of the characters’ missions, and the consequences of it. It would be a lot for me to digest, and I can’t expect every movie to have a happy ending, because not everything does, and that’s totally understandable.

But for the most part, the movie has a funny and emotional look at how these two leads look at their lives and how they either decide to live or off themselves. It all depends on how time treats them, and how they think things through. At certain moments, they don’t, but for the really important parts, they do.

Carmichael directs and acts with a vibrant and poetic aspect, as it’s proof that he can be taken seriously. It’s no gimmick, it’s no lousy attempt, and it’s no joke. Comedy stars have tried and succeeded or tried and failed to balance both sides of themselves. Carmichael tries and succeeds.

Abbott also delivers a performance so complex, it’s impossible to comprehend what’s going on in his character’s mind, and he eases us into his tension. He thinks about his tormentors, he deals with some side tracks, and he feels he’s been pushed to the very limit.

Every once in a while a joke appears, not laugh-out-loud funny, but more low key and honest. I mean it’s not often we hear a woman criticizing her ex about giving her support money in a McDonalds bag. Probably gave something away, but it’s kind of funny the way Haddish handles it. But she isn’t here to tickle you; in fact, her supporting role has sincerity and anger handled internally. You can sense it.

“On the Count of Three” is a sad movie about sad characters, well-acted by Carmichael and Abbot and nearly well-written by Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch. I’m not sure how certain groups of people would take this particular views on suicide, but then again, it wouldn’t be the first movie of its kind.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

In Select Theaters and On Demand

Categories: comedy, Drama

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