The Marc Pease Experience Reviews
Former high school musical star, Marc Pease, finds himself still living in the past, eight years after graduating.
Often compared to Rushmore but is not exactly on the same level of Wes Anderson's earlier masterpiece, The Marc Pease Experience hits a couple of high notes with a playful Ben Stiller with the killer mane and Jason Schwartzman as Max Fisher-lite playing teacher and student respectively, Anna Kendrick also stars. The script is passable, its peppered with funny moments but fails to maintain its hilarity the whole way. The movie hits its high point when Jason's character Marc Pease serves as proxy to an injured performer and kills it with the closing musical number for "The Wiz".
Funny moments here and there but didn't exactly find its rhythm, The Marc Pease Experience is a watchable treat for those looking for a good night's chuckle.
Ben Stiller plays a giant asshole yet again, making it harder and harder for me to see him in any other capacity, and it's always nice to see Anna Kendrick being cute, but there's not a lot going on beyond that.
Ostensibly, the lead is Marc Pease (Jason Schwartzman), as we follow him for the majority of the film. He's a former high school a cappella star, whose band now only consists of four out of the original eight members. This is a delusional man. He thinks he's still in high school. He's dating one of our other main characters, Meg (Anna Kendrick), although we only seem them together a couple of times -- once at the beginning and once at the end; maybe there's a time in the middle, but I don't remember it. He is eight years removed from going to this school. I can't be the only one finding this just a little bit creepy.
Our third character is another person who doesn't understand what leaving high school is, the school's drama teacher, Mr. Gribble (Ben Stiller). Gribble once told Marc that if Marc's band ever wanted to record a demo, he'd help produce it. As a result, Marc continues to try to contact his "mentor," despite Gribble not actually wanting to have anything to do with him. Gribble is currently in the process of directing the school's play, a very impressive production of The Wiz -- a musical version of The Wizard of Oz, for those unaware..
Now, Gribble seems like he's just a grownup version of Marc Pease. Many of the personality traits found in one is also found in the other. Both are living in the past, and both are unable to give up the spotlight. The film does nothing with this concept, by the way; you're left to make any possible connection by yourself. Initially I thought that director/writer Todd Louiso was attempting subtlety, but without any mention whatsoever, I can only assume he could only write one type of male character.
Of course, the only important female isn't written any better. She wants to quit singing, or maybe she doesn't -- it doesn't matter and it's unclear; she changes her mind on a whim. By the end of the film she'll have made a decision, but how she arrived at the conclusion makes absolutely no sense to us, because we haven't been given even a semblance of genuine character throughout The Marc Pease Experience.
Very little of the film makes sense, really, because we have no idea why these characters act the way they do. We can almost understand why Marc is still holding on to his childhood spotlight -- he choked on-stage during a prior performance of The Whiz and might be trying to make amends for that -- but because the film gives us no insight into his head, or, indeed, the minds of any of the characters presented to us, there's no way to determine this. You can only guess, and when you have so little to go on, guessing accomplishes very little.
I mentioned earlier that the characters have very few interactons with other ones who are given names. This is true. Most of the time, they talk to extras about nothing in particular, or they sit alone in periods of self-reflection. Reflecting on what, exactly, is and will remain a mystery to us. I mean, is it too much to ask to at least understand where these characters are coming from? Even when all of the revelations occur -- none of which change anything, by the way -- you won't be enlightened on the events that transpired earlier.
For what's supposed to be a compelling drama/comedy, there aren't exactly many instances of this. Since characters rarely interact with each other, there's no possibility of good drama. There are a couple of funny parts -- the opening scene is kind of enjoyable, and many of Ben Stiller's scenes are at least tolerable because he's moderately funny -- but not enough to hold your attention. There also isn't a large number of musical scenes, although that might be appreciated by many potential audience members.
The actors often look lost, and they're forced to utter dialogue that both sounds stupid and doesn't have purpose. Since they rarely get to act across from any other "big name," you can kind of understand why they don't turn in great performances. Ben Stiller, Jason Schwartzman and Anna Kendrick are all strong talents, but, particularly in regards to the last two, none of that talent is utilized here. Stiller gets the only laughs, and they're few and far between.
The Marc Pease Experience isn't even an enjoyable one. It's dreary, filled with characters who are both unlikable and have nonexistent personalities, all of whom do things for no discernible reason. They don't get to interact with each other, they don't get lines that make any sense, and any depth they have has to be guessed or assumed by the audience. It's not funny, and it makes good actors look awful in the process. Forget that The Marc Pease Experience exists.
Sad to say, by trying to be all of the above, it accomplished none of the above.
The acting itself by the stars was fine (Ben Stiller just got really creepy in one scene), but they weren't strong enough to rescue this "eh" film.
I didn't consider a waster of 2 hours of my life, but then again, there were other things I could have done (or better movies I could have watched instead).
I expected something better than this because of the cast. Not really all that funny or memorable. Fair at best.