The Puffy Chair review by Tom Blain
Josh (Mark Duplass) decided to go on a road trip to visit his mom and dad. The road trip is not without mission: He bought a vintage purple recliner off of Ebay for his Dads birthday which he will pickup on the way and deliver by hand. The recliner is, of course, the Puffy Chair; its a vintage model that is identical to the one his dad used to own when Josh was a kid. Originally the road trip was planned as a one man show, but his girlfriend Emily (Kathryn Aselton) guilted him into taking her along as well. They are at that point in their relationship where its either going to go to next level or its not and if its not one of them has to break it off before they kill each other. Emily sees the road trip as a good way to get to know Josh better and hopefully get him to commit.
Shortly after leaving they stop to visit Joshs brother Rhett (Rhett Wilkins) who iswell the kind of guy who at 27 years old, would wear Birkenstocks while reading Buddhist texts. He is a bit of a hippy without a real job of his own and seemingly little responsibilities. Josh seems to be the more responsible of the two which isnt saying a whole lot (at least he has a job booking bands in venues). Before they leave, Josh somehow invites his brother to join them on their journey creating the road trip triad.
Along the way they get themselves into a number of little adventures that are so simple and pure that they could be a part of any American road trip: They get stuck in a small town, get screwed over by a salesman, and of course the one that hit closest to home with me: they tried to stay at a small motel under the rate for only one person. Thats probably the point when this movie really connected with me.
As a matter of fact, the whole story itself is told with an almost spooky authenticity and attention to detail. For example, the movie opens with Josh and Emily eating dinner and talking in schmoopy voice, i.e. that cute, almost baby voice couples talk in. You know the kind that makes most guys sick until they are behind closed doors with their little lady. This talk in the movie goes on for not just for one or two lines but for entire conversations. At times you want to cringe; like you are the peeping tom into a cute couple's moment. Thats the type of writing/acting that gives this moving authenticity.
Each time the trio gets themselves in a situation, they reveal more about their character. For example, much of the comedy came when Joshs character would constantly try to cut corners to save a buck, but did so at the inconvenience of others while brother Rhett's problem seems to be his lack of motivation to grow up and commit. And of course there was fighting whats a good road trip without a clash of personalities.
The movie is reminiscent of Kevin Smiths Clerks. Not because it is a vulgar movie about slackers (vulgar no, slackers yes) but because it is good, real, honest, young, independent film making done with a minimal budget but plenty of heart. Mark Duplass (the main actor) wrote the movie and his brother Jay Duplass directed it. Jay was never seen in the movie because he was the guy constantly walking around with the digital handheld camera shooting every scene. Much like the filmmakers who shoot within the rules of Dogme95, these two have taken quality, low-budget filmmaking to the next level through the use of digital cameras. The shots are all relatively simple, but they also dont distract from the story itself. The Duplass brothers clearly demonstrate that digital filmmaking has arrived for the masses. If you have a camera, a good story and good actors, you can make a good movie.
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