There's a loose charm to this comedy that disarms the audience, raising smiles instead of laughter as three nutty characters swirl around each other. But writer-director Andrew Bujalski (Computer Chess) seems happy to just let things meander without much sense of momentum and no real underlying point. So the characters become less endearing the more we get to know them.
It's set in a gym in Austin, Texas, where the dim owner Trevor (Guy Pearce) has a dream to create the ultimate holistic fitness centre, a goal constantly belittled by his sharp-tongued employee Kat (Coby Smulders), a fitness-obsessed personal trainer with whom he once had a brief fling. Their newest client is the recently wealthy Danny (Kevin Corrigan), who is just looking for ways to spend money and kill time. But Kat once again blurs professional boundaries, and Danny sacks her. Trevor steps in, offering Danny some whole-life training, which inadvertently convinces Danny to invest in his super-gym, working through a quirky lawyer (Giovanni Ribisi) and an estate agent (Constance Zimmer) who happens to be Trevor's current squeeze. What could possibly go wrong?
Bujalski reveals details about each character slowly, with back-stories and flashbacks thrown randomly into the unfocussed narrative. The film has a brisk pace, but is fairly aimless until more details are revealed about these people. Pearce is very funny as the too-serious Trevor, and his earnestness is the perfect foil for the cynical Kat, who is played with stinging cynicism by the up-for-it Smulders. The problem is that while their mutual physical attraction is believable, the underlying romance isn't. And while Corrigan completes the triangle nicely, he's so disinterested in everything and everyone that it's difficult to imagine him ever developing a proper friendship. Thankfully, the interaction is packed with barbed wit and some intriguingly dark emotion.
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