Michael Knowles directs this slight story with all the complexity of a TV sitcom
Reviewed for MovieWeb by Harvey Karten
Director: Michael Knowles
Screenwriter: Douglas Light, Michael Knowles from Douglas Light's novel "East Fifth Bliss"
Cast: Michael C. Hall, Chris Messina, Brie Larson, Brad William Henki, Sarah Shahi
Screened at: Review 2, NYC, 3/6/12
Opens: March 23, 2012
Michael Knowles directs "The Trouble With Bliss" as though the movie were a TV feature or an off-Broadway play. Judging by the reviews on Amazon for Douglas Light's novel "East Fifth Bliss" which has been adapted by the novelist and the director, the read has been a big five-star success about characters who, the reviewers state, are "sympathetic, endearing, maddening, hilarious, and hard to forget." Another reader wonders whether "the movie [will be] as funny, sharp and touching as the book." Sadly, something went wrong with the adaptation, or perhaps characters seen on the page by readers using their imagination do not come out funny, sharp or touching when visualized realistically on the screen.
Directing with all the complexity of a TV sitcom, Michael Knowles, whose 2007 movie "One Night" looks at fifteen New Yorkers whose lives are about to change when they go out on a Friday, showcases Michael C. Hall as the title character, Morris Bliss, who at the age of thirty-five is still living with his dad, Seymour (Peter Fonda). Morris is such a passive slacker that he forgets to pick up the groceries and keys that his father asks him to get. Strangely, Morris, who is wearing a big obvious rug, is a chick magnet, reeling in eighteen-year-old Stephanie Jouseski (Brie Larson) whose Catholic school uniform does not inhibit her in Morris's bed. Equally weird, even the fully adult Andrea (Lucy Liu) is hot for the lad as well, unable to keep her hands off the fellow any more than can the kid. The trouble with Bliss is that both women have guys who will not take their women's flirtations with him silently, particularly Steven 'Jetski' Jouseski (Brad William Henke), who is Stephanie's dad and also a burly, former classmate of Morris, and a menacing dude who is attached to Andrea.
Throw in yet another strange person, NJ (Chris Messina), who is part of an international cartel bent on overthrowing governments around the Third World and you end up with a mixture of eccentrics who, by rights, should have evoked audience laughter but instead elicit audience exasperation.
Unrated. 97 minutes (c) 2012 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online