Several actors tried their hand at writing and directing their own films in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and Chelsea Peretti is included in that industrious group with First Time Female Director. A refreshingly original film about a woman who is tasked to direct the rural, southern-set play she wrote for a community theater after the first director is ousted for predatory behavior. The film had the audience gut-laughing almost nonstop from beginning to end at clever gags, bits, and one liners. It wasn’t all laughs though, the film dealt with some weighty topics in smart ways and ended up being fairly heartwarming underneath it all. It was a delightful movie from beginning to end and even included two vastly different plays set within the film.
There were a ton of gorgeous establishing shots in the introduction that clued us in that this was taking place in Glendale, California. Peretti’s Sam reluctantly takes over as the director of her own play, then hijinks and calamity ensue. It was a madcap romp, bringing nonstop laughs as Sam struggles to win over the cast of the play. At one point she forces them to go hiking together and Megan Mullally’s character mumbles that her shoes are made of felt as she trudges up the mountain. The film is so full of these throw away jokes that it’s the kind of movie you can enjoy watching repeatedly and always find something new to laugh about. There was a scene at a dinner party with some wealthy theater patrons that was the most accurate depiction of stingy old-money I have ever seen in film; the hosts served beans to everyone, after they were expecting fancier fare, such as lobster, and a much bigger mansion. I loved everyone’s intentionally horrible Southern accents during Sam’s play. Badly done Southern accents are so prevalent in theater and the actors seemed to be having a blast butchering the articulation of the words.
The cast list was full of familiar faces such as Andy Richter playing the theater director, Megan Mullally as a delightfully out of touch actor, Blake Anderson as a mostly absent actor, and Max Greenfield as a sullen usher; someone near me gasped with delight every time he appeared on screen. Amy Poehler was a manic, coke sniffing therapist.. There were also plenty of cameos including Peretti’s husband—Jordan Peele, as well as Nick Kroll, Stephanie Beatriz, and Adam Scott who were mostly in one scene where they played actors coming in to give absurd acting advice to the cast of the play. There were several newer actors who knocked their performances out of the park. One such performance, is Benito Skinner as an overwrought actor who aspires to bigger things. Another new face was Megan Stalter as a wacky, Tik Tok-loving actress who had lots of great one-liners. Xosha Roquemore brought a needed bit of gravity to the film with her successful rookie playwright character.