Gus is a light comedy about a couple going through fertility treatments to have a baby, when Lizzie’s (Mitchell) best friend Andie (Monaghan) gets pregnant from a one-night stand. The women are close, and Andie offers the baby to Lizzie and her husband Peter (Jon Dore). In gratitude, the couple allows Andie to stay in their home during pregnancy because she is afraid to be alone. This creates unexpected stresses because Andie has a talent for saying exactly the wrong thing, laughing inappropriately, or simply being incompetent.
As if one guest is not enough, Peter insists that his brother Casey (Michael Weston) stay with them as well; he is being discharged from his fourth drug rehabilitation stay, and although he insists he is fine, Peter is afraid for him to be on his own. Casey clearly resents this over-protectiveness, but gives in to his brother. BTW, Casey is adopted, which will become an issue in the story.
Predictably, it is only a matter of time before these housing arrangements create additional problems. When Lizzie and Peter take a break, getting away for the weekend, an incident between Andie and Casey make the arrangement impossible in Peter’s mind, and he decides Casey will go home, and he will stay there with him until the baby arrives. Lizzie does not take too well with being left on her own, but agrees. Crises continue throughout movie, with most intended to make the audience laugh, such as when all four of them visit the couple’s therapist. The therapist is terrible at her job, but that only makes the audience laugh more.
The writer/director, Jessie McCormack, has created a film that may be popular with the general audience, but for me, the Andie character was over the top in being clueless and irresponsible. It is hard to believe any couple like Lizzie and Peter would put up with her for months on end. Unbelievable also is the therapist’s lack of skill, including not advising against allowing a surrogate mother to live in the adoptive parents’ home and not having any legal papers drawn up regarding the baby. I cannot recommend this movie, even though the acting is very good.
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
RADHA MITCHELL MICHELLE MONAGHAN JON DORE MICHAEL WESTON
One of the unexpected delights of SXSW, Gus is written and directed by Jessie McCormack, who makes her directorial debut. McCormack, a short film actress, makes a huge leap to feature film in a really encouraging way. Both Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill) and Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible 3) are known for their babe type roles in which they play women with little to no personalities for development. About women, starring two female leads and written and directed by a woman, Gus is a rare, but a much welcome anomaly that proves there are stories out there for these actresses starved for work. Even better, Mitchell and Monaghan have never been better; they finally get to show off their skills playing characters that are funny, dramatic, crazy and honest.
Andie (Monaghan) and Lizzie (Mitchell) have been friends forever. Andie is the girl who never outgrew her youth, partying and hooking up every night. Meanwhile, Lizzie is controlling and plans her life out, married and unable to have children. “I can’t take this, it’s too unfair,”Andie says after she gets pregnant after a one night stand and decides to have the child and give it to Lizzie. Peter (Dore), the husband, said he thought he would want children one day but doesn’t seem warm to the idea of getting children either way; meanwhile, he is taking care of his rehabilitated brother Casey (Weston), who adds a whole new element to the household of crazy going on between these guys.
There are moments where I accept that some viewers might want a little more seriousness midway through the film and might want to get off this eccentric, but poignant ride. There are many Ally McBeal/David E. Kelly moments in this script that I loved and cherished. Andie is either just obnoxious or has a mild version of Tourette's, but her vocal diarrhea makes everything more interesting. I really enjoy the chance to see two women like Mitchell and Monaghan, who have been sadly typecast in action films, get to really act and really deliver.
Gus has a heavy crudeness to it; they refer to body parts with the most crude language and there is quite an unforgettable sex scene between Andie and Casey that raises the bar a bit. Gus easily slides back and forth between comedy and drama much like the way life does, it’s just that the volume is turned up on both sides. Mimi Kennedy (Midnight in Paris) also adds a level of insanity to the characters as the therapist, and it reminded me of Tracey Ullman’s Emmy winning role in Ally McBeal. Both males and females should get quite a laugh out of this charmer.
Final Thought – Refreshingly original and well acted, a terrific directorial debut.
By: Dustin Chase