The 4th marks the second Fourth of July comedy to be released this year, and it’s certainly the better flick over Mad Families. The shoestring slacker comedy isn’t necessarily anything to write home about either, but writer/director/star Andre Hyland uses an unusual blend of schadenfreude and repetition to make his audience chuckle.
Jamie (Hyland) doesn’t have high expectations for his Fourth of July. All he wants to do is invite some pals over to his place to have a cookout, but the universe seems to conspire against his innocent wishes. In an attempt to purchase lighter fluid, he’s roped into road rage, deals with a crabby store clerk and a crabbier Uber driver, denied a bathroom in the most desperate of times, confronted by the cops, and randomly scolded over and over again. These events in The 4th sound trying, but since Jamie is outspoken and pissed when he’s chastised, the sociable pendulum keeps swinging during these awkward conversations; the audience anticipates who will have the final words or the last laugh.
Hyland understands Jamie’s unlikeability, but the filmmaker decides to perceive his character as a resourceful dude rather than a mischievous punk – this headspace matches the modest motivations in the film. The wrong attitude could’ve raised these low stakes, making the audience hate Jamie as much as the rest of Los Angeles does. Instead, we just want to see Jamie – this poor schlub – eat a cheeseburger and enjoy some fireworks. Whether you deem the cringeworthy antics in The 4th as comical or unbearable, you have to admit the film’s balancing act is pretty impressive.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie