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“aTypical Wednesday” Depicts A Largely Typical Dramedy

Sometimes, a film’s name can be part of its undoing. Despite the suggestions of its title, aTypical Wednesday follows a mostly typical route in telling its story. A vehicle for actor and now writer/director J. Lee, this movie feels like something we used to see all the time at the Sundance Film Festival. An uneven and somewhat generic dramedy, the flick has a few quirks, but mostly follows a path we’ve been down many times before. Lee himself is a compelling figure, one with a future behind the camera, but this is only a hint of what he has to offer.

The movie is a dramedy, centered largely on one particular Wednesday in the life of personal trainer Gabe (Lee). Each and every single Wednesday, Gabe sees his therapist (Michael Ealy) for an intense session. Though he wants to think otherwise, therapy isn’t quite having the intended effect on him. Keeping loved ones at a distance, Gabe is in a long-term rut, one that’s about to get upended by a very unlikely source. On this less than normal Wednesday, Gabe’s therapy takes a very strange turn when he ends up having to give a ride home to another patient in young boy Alec (Cooper J. Friedman). Having seen each other every week waiting for the elevator, the pair quickly develop a rhythm, with Gabe trying to help Alec with his bullies, while the kid points out some of the adult’s foibles. As they go on a day long misadventure to get Alec home, they keep running into various people in Gabe’s life, all of whom are, in one way or another, helping him get over his last break up. Through it all, an unlikely friendship blossoms. J. Lee writes and directs, in addition to starring, with cinematography from Christopher Goss. Supporting players include Sujata Day, Seth Green, Emmy Raver-Lampman, and more.

There are moments of smart comedy here, and J. Lee has a solid filmmaker’s eye, but the dramatic moments fall flat. The tonal inconsistencies here keep Lee’s vision from fully coming through. He’s a solid actor, and even young Cooper J. Friedman is effective, with the two sharing a nice low-key chemistry. The ingredients are here, they just don’t really come together in a fully satisfying way. Lee stumbles early on, before finding his way by the end. Had there been a more even approach to the mix of comedy and drama, this would have been worthy of a slight recommendation. As it is, it falls just short.

aTypical Wednesday suggests a rather interesting future behind the camera for J. Lee. The material clearly resonates with him on a personal level, which is always appreciated. He just can’t fully make the stakes for his character Gabe resonate with the audience. That’s more his writing being a work in progress, as his direction is smooth and keeps things moving reasonable well. Lee could certainly tighten his pacing, but if he continues to take this personal approach to his projects, there could be something pretty interesting on the horizon. He’s not there yet, but he’s not too far off, all things considered.

This weekend, aTypical Wednesday is available to watch on VOD, hoping to be a breakout vehicle for J. Lee. While the final product is too uneven to recommend, anyone who has a soft spot for Sundance style dramedies may find something more here than I did. If so, this could surprise. Your mileage may vary, so feel free to give it a shot On Demand and see for yourself…

aTypical Wednesday is available this Friday.

(Photos courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

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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