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“The Year of Spectacular Men” is a family affair in front of and behind the camera

Family affairs are often depicted on screen as plot subjects. That’s nothing new. It is, however, rare and unique to see the family dynamic front and center in terms of the creative team. In the case of The Year of Spectacular Men, that’s actually part of its specific charm. Directed by veteran actress Lea Thompson (in her feature debut), it stars and is directed by her daughter Madelyn Deutch. In addition, co-starring with a scene stealing turn is daughter/sibling Zoey Deutch, who we’ve mentioned here is a future A-lister. Opening tomorrow, this movie brings a trio of creative family members together for a charming indie that will leave a smile on your face for sure.

The film is an indie romantic comedy/coming of age story. That may sound like one of a million, but the fun tone does help to set it apart a bit. Rotten Tomatoes has this substantial synopsis to share: “Izzy Klein has (barely) graduated from college, broken up (sorta) with her boyfriend, and is stranded in New York City with a bad case of pre-real-world millennial-itis. Unsure of what the next step is, her movie star little sister Sabrina convinces her to move back home to Los Angeles and into her shared apartment with movie star boyfriend Sebastian, where they can keep an eye on rudderless Izzy. Emotionally unable to deal with the loss of her father, and slightly distracted by her mother Deb’s newfound love affair with loopy yogi Amythyst, Izzy funnels her energy into dating a colorful bouquet of five complicated and spectacular men: Aaron, Ross, Logan, Mikey, and Charlie, over the course of the next year. Coping just barely with the help of her trusty notebook, she falls in and out of some not so romantic romances, and figures out that when it totally feels like the end of your story, it’s often just the beginning.” As we follow Izzy (Madelyn Deutch), it clearly becomes far more a story about her growth than a quest for a new partner. Plus, there’s the relationship with her sister Sabrina (Zoey Deutch), which provides most of the funniest bits of dialogue. Lea Thompson directs and co-stars, with Madelyn Deutch having also written the script. Also in the cast are the likes of Jesse Bradford, Nicholas Braun, Brandon T. Jackson, Avan Jogia, Cameron Monaghan, and more.

Breezy is the best way to describe this movie. Thompson displays a nice handle on low key comedy behind the camera, while the Deutch girls are perfectly cast, which makes sense, considering the pedigree here. We’ve spoken about Zoey before (and will do so again in a moment), but this supporting play is one of her best to date. The supportive sister/oddball actress is a part that could be grating, but she makes it a one of a kind delight. As for Madelyn, she not only shows how she’s got a strong hand, writing wise, but can be a charming leading lady. The pacing is a little slack, but good natured feel of the flick easily pulls you through.

This is part of what I wrote about Zoey Deutch when her film Flower hit theaters earlier this year: “Her career has been building slowly over the last few years. Flower is a starring role for Deutch (her only other one being Before I Fall) after plum supporting gigs in movies like Dirty Grandpa, Everybody Wants Some, Rebel in the Rye, Why Him?, and Vampire Academy. With a charm and screen presence matched by few, she makes everything she’s in decidedly better. That’s just a fact. As the years progress, her roles will become juicier and juicier, with big time stardom on the horizon. She’s got the goods, so it’s just a matter of filmmakers connecting with her and casting her.” Throw in this new flick and she’s showcasing quite the resume.

Opening this week, The Year of Spectacular Men is hardly spectacular, but it is a cute little movie that earns a solid recommendation. This film succeeds based on the Deutch girls’ talents, as well as Thompson’s easygoing confidence behind the camera. At a time when female filmmaking voices are being sought after, we have a pair here to get behind and support. If there’s any justice, this will catch on and be a small scale crowd pleaser. It certainly has the goods. If you’re a fan of anyone in this cast, or Thompson’s, for that matter, do yourself a favor and seek this one out…

Be sure to check out The Year of Spectacular Men, in theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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