The Living Wake Reviews
Half of this film begs us to take it seriously, as though it has something profound and original to say about life and death, and the other half avoids any serious consideration in favor of broad and over-the-top comedy. The result is a mixed bag that falls short in both goals.
The film's energy comes from the lead performance by Mike O'Connell; the set must not have had craft service because he chews the scenery like a starving orphan. The character K. Roth Binew is written to be larger than life, but O'Connell makes him even larger. I found myself wishing that Binew could have been played by Albert Finney, channeling his Big Fish character. Jesse Eisenberg is wonderful as Binew's eternally faithful and loyal assistant, a thankless character that Eisenberg mines for gold.
Overall, despite O'Connell's over-the-top performance, there are a lot of little parts, moments of philosophical truth, that make this film worth watching even if the whole is inconsistent and flawed.
Someone could argue, "...but it is absurd. That's a point in and of itself!" I wouldn't agree though. It lingered on the edges of one, but just remained slightly too undaring to go for it.