The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

As much as I liked The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, I find it incredibly difficult to endorse because its strengths lie deep beneath its surface.  Frequent filmmaking collaborators Hans Canosa and Gabrielle Zevin (Conversations with Other Women, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac) have made an adaptation of Zevin’s novel of the same name that’s neither plot or character driven.  Instead, just like a layered and schmaltzy book, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry has its finger on the subtextual pulse within romance, friendship, intimacy, and legacy.

We start with the titular A.J. Fikry (Kunal Nayyar of Dr. Cabbie and Big Bang Theory fame), a curmudgeon and a widower who drowns himself in work and alcohol at his bookstore, wallowing in his sorrows.  Life, however, throws him back-to-back curveballs when he discovers a rare literary artifact has been stolen from him and an unattended toddler is abandoned in one of his reading rooms.  From there, A.J. consults with a local cop (Lambiase played by David Arquette) for guidance, maintains fluent communication with a publishing sales rep (Amelia played by Lucy Hale), and softens up to the idea of becoming an impromptu parent.

But again, need I remind you, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is not character driven.  Even though Fikry is directly referenced in that title, the movie is about the influence he has on the lives around him.  Canosa’s vision will veer off of A.J. and focus on Lambiase or Amelia and then, eventually, return to A.J.  While the restless pacing is uneven, with specific key events being glazed over, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is affectionate towards the human spirit to enough of a degree to consistently win the audience back.  Is this successful turnaround due to Canosa’s direction, Zevin’s screenwriting, or because of the convincing performances?  I think everyone contributes equally, resulting in a really unique crowd-pleaser.


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