Water symbolizes beauty and compassion in this underachieving black comedy. But there isn't any water in the town of Trona, California, and there hasn't been for nearly two decades, making its drought-plagued stretch of land a breeder of nothing but ugliness and apathy. Having lived in Trona all of his life, Ray (played by the doe-eyed Dylan Walsh of FX's "Nip/Tuck"), a toll operator, is bogged down by the desert town's constantly dreary mood, and, as a result, allows everything in his life to be molded by those around him -- he's bullied by a meth-head teenager named Dirk (who owns the rural area and cuts everyone's utilities if they don't submit to his commands), he puts up with his fatuous, droning, agoraphobic wife, Charlene (whose next-to-absent enthusiasm is only evident when she's fighting someone to remain indoors), and obliges his son ("Superbad"'s Jonah Hill, in a rather lackluster role) upon demand that he's taken to a hooker hang-out to lose his virginity. Nonetheless, and perhaps to the further detriment of the story's practicality, Ray remains a martyr throughout, turning his unremitting smile upside-down only when he catches Charlene in the sack with his cry-baby brother, Mark (and even then he politely asks, "Can we talk?").
Eventually, as one might have supposed, Ray is inspired to take control of his life (by an independent gas station owner played by Danny DeVito -- there's no way you could've predicted that), and so he does. He pursues the neighborhood mini-mart's cute cashier, Nora (Tracy Middendorf, whose kind face proves to be a crucial one), who has crushed on Ray since high school, organizes an overthrow of Trona's tyrannous proprietor and his crony pack (which includes "Live Free or Die Hard"'s Justin Long), and brings the water back into the Californian community and, ultimately, his life.
"Just Add Water" is an inconsistent, misguided attempt at what other films have already done. It's often sweet -- director Hart Bochner crafts a handful of tender jiffs, one between Hill and a pro, amusingly named R'ch'lle (I apologize if you share that name...for having to endure the name itself and for poking fun at it), and the others concerning Ray and Nora -- but all the sweets in the world wouldn't get this film past its lifeless characters or its similarly unresponsive production (script/direction/acting).