Actors: Sarah Burns, Adam Pally
Directors: Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Number of discs: 1
Studio: MPI Home Video
DVD Release Date: December 15, 2015
Run Time: 97 minutes
Slow Learners opens with a couple of scenes that are brilliantly executed, and also set up the oddball tone of the comedy fittingly. After about 1/3 of the unique narrative about two socially inept school teachers with atrocious dating skills, the story shifts into a series of predictable and cliché plot structures. Even worse than this predictability, however, are the scenes in which the improvisational comedy made me stop laughing and feel embarrassed for the actors. However uneven the overall experience of Slow Learners may be, there are enough funny scenes to make enduring the bad ones worthwhile.
Jeff (Adam Pally) and Anne (Sarah Burns) are co-workers and close friends who share a mutual inability to find love. When school lets out for the summer they hatch a plan to develop a social life by transforming themselves, though they are clearly best suited for each other just as they are. Slow Learners is far from subtle in its pointed criticism of the bar scene, deservedly so. If I had to guess, I would say that this film was fueled off of the bitterness of experience. Jeff’s method for suddenly attracting women, after plenty of comedic missteps, is simply acting indifferent to their presence. Anne’s success comes from heavily increasing her alcohol consumption and overall trashy behavior.
Beneath the countless scenes of obnoxious drunken behavior replacing the lovable quirkiness in the characters, the advocacy for ‘being yourself’ becomes obtusely clear. The message is effective, but possibly too much so. When the film gets bogged down by the changed behavior in the protagonists, I found myself losing interest in the film. The characters are far more compelling when they are being their oddball self, as seen in the opening scenes, but the story must spend time where they act like everybody else in order for the predictable ending to unfold.
The quirkiness of the characters before they go through their makeover phase, combined with a few brilliant supporting performances that often feel shamelessly shoehorned into the narrative, are what make this a comedy worth checking out. Here’s my one suggestion; skip any scene involving a reality TV show and you won’t miss anything funny, and skip the double dinner date if you don’t want the point of the movie crammed in your face amidst aimlessly awkward improvisation. Only a trailer is included in the special features.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 4/10