Film Review: ‘Ode to Joy’

  • Variety
Film Review: ‘Ode to Joy’
Contrary to popular belief that insists upon their demise, first-rate romantic comedies are still alive and well. Sadly, Jason Winer’s perplexing farce “Ode to Joy” — on the misadventures of a tedious male lead with a self-sabotaging biology that opposes happiness — makes it harder than ever to dispute the mourners of the supposedly vanished genre. Humorless to a paralyzing extent, this joyless effort (developed under the title “The Pursuit of Unhappiness”) illustrates how a bad-on-paper idea can turn into something cringe-inducing onscreen. It also reminds that pulling off a smart, intoxicating happily-ever-after tale with sexual chemistry, refined contemporary jokes and lovably quirky sidekicks (à la “The Big Sick” or “Crazy Rich Asians”) is much tougher than we often imagine.

Inspired by a true story featured on the “This American Life” podcast, the labored romp follows the Brooklyn librarian Charlie, played by a deliberately monotonous Martin Freeman (“The Hobbit”) sans an emotional range.
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