I am a big fan of writer/director Gillian Robespierre’s 2014 comedy, “Obvious Child”. Because of this, I was looking forward to seeing her team-up again with star Jenny Slate in the 90’s set comedy-drama “Landline”. For you kiddos out there, the title refers to home phones and payphones, pretty much any phone that’s connected to a telephone pole. Can you imagine a time where you didn’t have a time where your phone didn’t go everywhere you went? It was kind of great. Unfortunately, “Landline” isn’t.
Set in 1995 Manhattan, “Landline” follows the lives and relationships of three female members of the Jacobs family. Ali (Abby Quinn) is a teenager who is so tough that when she goes out in the middle of the night, her father Alan (John Turturro) thinks she is too scary to get mugged. Ali’s older sister Dana (Jenny Slate) is engaged to a super nice guy named Ben (Jay Duplass) but allows herself to have an affair with another guy. Dana isn’t the only one having trouble staying faithful, as Ali discovers her father is also cheating on her mother Pat (Edie Falco).
“Landline” features a terrific cast who really are a joy to watch here. I really bought Quinn and Slate as siblings. Not only do they have a similar appearance but they share such great sisterly chemistry, even when they aren’t getting along. Turturro and Falco are as good as you would expect them to be and Duplass does the most with what little he is given here. The problem with “Landline” isn’t the performances, because it’s the cast that made the all-too-familiar storyline bearable. The problem is that I couldn’t find anything about the characters to care about. These are unhappy people who just don’t realize how good they have it. If you like the cast, “Landline” may be something to catch at home on streaming, but it’s just not worth going to your local theater and shelling out $11+ on a ticket.
By: Marc Ferman