A twenty-something guy can’t get himself together—sure, you’ve heard that one before—but William von Tagen’s film Almosting It is an honest and funny exploration of the theme. His protagonist isn’t hopeless, just committed to not having a second-place life, which, conversely, prevents him from having any kind of life at all.
The aimless Ralph (played by von Tagen, who also wrote, directed, and produced), is “in the back half” of his twenties, as his ex reminds him, with nothing to show for it. Everything about Ralph is stuck; his book was never published, his job is a dead-end, and he can’t get a date (despite calling all the women he knows in the familiar but genuinely funny opening scene). The problem, as diagnosed by Ralph’s sharply drawn and instantly recognizable writers’ group, is that he needs “more life experience”.
Cue our favorite thing about this movie: veterans Lee Majors and Terry Kiser as Chet and Mort, the very active residents of the retirement home who liven up Ralph’s online dating profile and his life. Their startling grasp of photoshop and unabashed zest for relationships provide some of the film’s best moments. Of the newcomers, William von Tagen’s is the standout performance, oblivious and scruffy enough to need Chet and Mort’s help, while sweet and vulnerable enough to attract three very different women.
There’s his aforementioned ex, Lorane (Annie Bulow), who has moved on and is insufferable about it; the sleek Quinn (Jessica Sulikowski), who Ralph stutters into a relationship with; and finally Maggie (Cassandra Lewis), his vintage-inspired roommate and coworker, with whom he’s in a functional, if platonic, relationship. With so much going for him, Ralph must be on the cusp of something.
And yet, he isn’t. He switches up jobs and relationships, but his prose remains turgid, as his writers group gleefully proclaims. Perhaps because Ralph acts only out of a belief that he should “grow up and do something” with his life (what, exactly, is unclear). There’s a smart subversion of the romantic comedy genre, especially its reliance on gesture-as-resolution, when this belief pushes Ralph into false realizations he later recants.
However, the film undercuts itself as Ralph bounces from one path to another, without ever convincing us. The ending gives another nice scene, though it feels less like a resolution than a convenient stopping place. We were also left wishing for another scene with the terrific Chet and Mort, and for more of Lorane, who began to emerge as a hurt and interesting character under her cheery surface.
This doesn’t take away from the genuinely entertaining moments, however; we loved von Tagen’s deft observations, the scenes in the retirement home shine, as does a speed-dating sequence, and a parody of a search engine optimization company (complete with overenthusiastic manger) that briefly employs Ralph.
It is also beautifully filmed, showing off Boise’s numerous charms (including our favorites Rediscovered Books and 10th St Station), and we loved the soundtrack by local band Edmond Dantes.
We’ll be looking out for more from von Tagen in the future.
Almosting It is playing at Overland Park Cinemas in Boise December 11-17 and opens soon in select cities.
Watch the Almosting It trailer here.