Ryan Reynolds walks the line between insane and crazy in this small town animal loving indie black comedy.
What is presented in The Voices may be difficult to categorise as a comedy. We have specific comedic tropes, a bumbling slapstick series of events and back talking British pets hellbent on destruction, yet the main theme which rang through the film for me was our lead characters severe mental illness. Jerry is a young man working in a small factory in suburban Milton who has a rosy outlook on life despite and due in part to his major delusional episodes and schizophrenia. When Jerry falls for a young lady in the accounts department we are lead on a series of unfortunate events that we know surely can’t end well.
There is lots to like about The Voices, Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick all put in performances we would expect from two of Americas sweethearts and a British star on the rise. Reynolds especially gave a snapshot into what we may be able to expect from his stand alone Deadpool movie, his unhinged but endearing performance as Jerry made you want the best for the character even as his affliction begins to consume him. The visuals of small town life melancholy are reflected in the washed out colour palate of the film. Reynolds imagined world and reality are Starkly contrasted, we are given rose tinted blurry glasses as he floats around carefree until the perspective of others gives us some horrid realisations. The comedy is well targeted as well, gallows humour delivered by the baby faced Jerry lands well as those around him deliver sarcastic barbs at his expense causing spurts of nervous laughter.
Despite all there is to like about The Voices however it eventually falls apart as the plot looms too hard over the proceedings as it is unsatisfying and seems to miss the point. Mental Illness is an unfortunate reality in society and is frequently used as a punchline to jokes. Here Jerry’s illness is never specifically mocked by others as it is undetected, but what we really crave for his character is help. As we see him descend into a helpless state, we want to help him and we are drawn out of the plot to the point where there is no way that the film could end both logically and satisfyingly. Unfortunately that’’s how it ends, with a whimper that should have been a riotous laugh. We are given an end that would sit fine in most introspective academy award fodder, but feels aggressively unsatisfying and inconsiderate in a film involving talking animals. The less said about the credits scene the better, as it truly feels like the film tested horribly and they added it in to get the score cards up. What started as an intriguing and clever film ends weakly, like the film was green lit before the script was finished.
Ryan Reynolds is transformative in this dark comedic romp about accidents and talking animals. The first fifteen minutes will suck you in and make you think about cult classics like Donnie Darko and God Bless America, then it starts to ramp it up, but eventually falls off, with only the memories of the opening and compelling performances from the leads to remind you of what could have been.