The end can’t come soon enough in “Just Before I Go,” a dismal, tonally disastrous small-town farce in which one man’s death wish becomes the occasion for a feature-length group therapy session. Aiming for a seriocomic examination of mid-life regrets and missed opportunities, Courtney Cox’s directing debut falls back on fat jokes, erection sight gags and other vulgar asides to offset a succession of teachable moments involving homosexuality, bullying, depression, abandonment and Down syndrome. Despite a much better cast than the material warrants, this Anchor Bay release (opening almost a year after its premiere at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival) is already on its way to a watery grave.
At the age of 41, divorced pet-store owner Ted Morgan (Seann William Scott) has decided to kill himself, but not before returning to his hometown and settling accounts with every jerk who ever crossed his path — like his antagonistic seventh-grade teacher (Beth Grant), now all but comatose, or a high-school bully who’s grown up to be an unusually sensitive meathead (Rob Riggle). As Ted comes to the shocking realization that he’s not the only one with issues, aided by a perky love interest (Olivia Thirlby) who insists on capturing his suicidal journey on video, Dave Flebotte’s script serves up a parallel coming-out drama involving Ted’s sensitive, penis-sketching nephew, Zeke (Kyle Gallner). Zeke’s story might well have made a watchable movie on its own — but not here, where it has to compete with Mom’s sleepwalking-masturbation habit and Grandma’s Elvis-impersonating lesbian partner. Dull and tamped down throughout, Scott convinces well enough as a guy who wants be put out of his misery, and there isn’t an actor here who doesn’t look ready to join him.
Film Review: 'Just Before I Go'
Reviewed online, Pasadena, Calif., April 26, 2015. (In 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.) Running time: 90 MIN.
A Starz release of a Coquette presentation of a Coquette/New Artists Alliance production. Produced by Courteney Cox, Gabriel Cowan, Thea Mann. Executive producers, John C. Rhee, Alexandria Jackson, David Arquette, John Suits.
Directed by Courteney Cox. Screenplay, Dave Flebotte. Camera (color, widescreen), Mark Schwartzbard; editor, Roger Bondelli; music, Erran Baron Cohen; production designer, Shannon Kemp; set decorator, Caity Birmingham; costume designer, Chris Kristoff; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), Dennis Grzesik; supervising sound editor/sound designer, Casey Genton; re-recording mixers, Ryan Collins, Genton; special effects coordinator, Ron Nary; visual effects supervisors, Mark Dippe, Seungyoung Lee; visual effects producer, Les Hunter; visual effects, Hammerhead Prods.; stunt coordinator, Brian Avery; line producer, Tara L. Craig; assistant director, Courtney Rowe; casting, Lauren Grey.
Seann William Scott, Olivia Thirlby, Garret Dillahunt, Kate Walsh, Kyle Gallner, Evan Ross, Rob Riggle, Mackenzie Marsh, Missi Pyle, Connie Stevens, David Arquette, Elisha Cuthbert, Beth Grant.