Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.
Coming-of-age stories are hard to tell. Many end up falling flat. Some only appeal to a certain demographic. The Edge of Seventeen strives to be both a comedy and a proper story about growing up. There’s some heartwarming honesty in the film, but not enough.
Blake Jenner and Haley Lu Richardson
Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) has a tense relationship with her family. She and her mother, Mona (Kyra Sedgwick), are always at odds. Mona relies on her eldest, Darian (Blake Jenner), to mend fences after family squabbles. Nadine hates her brother for being the perfect child and turns for support to her childhood friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). When she discovers that Darian and Krista are dating, her world is turned upside down. Estranged from Krista, Nadine is forced to navigate alone.
The Edge of Seventeen’s storyline touches on manyissues that should resonate. Being a teenager is hard. There are conflicting emotions and the ongoing struggle to adjust to life after puberty. The film’s delivery of these messages, however, is messy. Nadine’s petty behavior makes it difficult to feel any empathy for her situation. At one point, she uses her father’s death to get out of a homework assignment. When her teacher, Mr. Brunner (Woody Harrelson) sees through her plan (her father died four years ago), she reacts by giving him a hard stare. There’s no remorse or guilt.
Hailee Steinfeld and Hayden Szeto
In order to fit into Nadine’s angst-ridden narrative, the remaining characters come off as wooden. Sedgwick does well with the limited amount she’s given, while Harrelson is used for comedic relief and not much else. The true standout, however, is Hayden Szeto as Erwin, Nadine’s classmate and love interest. Sweet and awkward, he’s the one person, besides Harrelson, who really seems to ground Nadine in reality.
The Edge of Seventeen has a lot of potential. Nadine’s final confession and release of pent up thoughts and emotions is the kind of thing the rest of the movie badly needs. The confession is honest, heart-twisting, relatable, and understandable given all that she’s going through.
Nadine is a little part of all of us, but the movie plays on her problems for too long without a proper payoff. The Edge of Seventeen showcases Hailee Steinfeld’s ability to carry a movie. Hopefully next time that vehicle will match her talents.
The Edge of Seventeen opens nationwide November 18, 2016.
Top photo: Hailee Steinfeld Photo credit: Murray Close courtesy of STX Productions
What would you do if you realized that there are aspects of your life that you have completely missed and the truth of what you’ve been living isn’t real? The Girl on the Train doesn’t particularly set out to answer this question, which is a shame. The film, based on the novel by Paula Hawkins, is a mystery thriller that sometimes touches on fascinating aspects of character development, only to then turn into a Lifetime film with a bloody and unsatisfying end.
“She’s everything I lost. She’s everything I want to be,” says Rachel (Emily Blunt) as she creepily watches Megan (Haley Bennett), a complete stranger to her, from the train. The obsession with watching Megan is, in part, due to the fact that Rachel’s own life is a miserable one and she believes the life the other woman leads to be one of perfection. Rachel rides the train into Manhattan everyday, sits in the same car, and watches Megan be happy with her husband, Scott (Luke Evans). We discover fairly soon that Rachel used to live two houses down from Megan, once sharing a home with her husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), who left her to be with Anna (Rebecca Ferguson).
Rachel’s stalking and curiosity eventually find her in the middle of an investigation after Megan disappears without a trace. An alcoholic who constantly blacks out, Rachel finds herself plunged into a mystery that places her at the scene of Megan’s last known location. With no alibi, she takes it upon herself to find out what happened, involving herself in a situation that reveals connections and truths she isn’t quite prepared for.
It’s the thrill of the chase and mystery of the disappearance. The characters kind of take a back seat and in a lot of ways, the plot drives the story, not the other way around. Told largely through Rachel’s perspective, we become privy to the fact that something is amiss early on. Her memory isn’t always reliable and makes the unfolding mystery easier to tell because of it.
However, the film is less concerned with expanding on Rachel’s story. We understand later the truth behind certain events and how they were twisted in her memory, but the skipping around between flashbacks and present day disentangle us from the central characters. Sure, there is some sympathy to go around, but because it never really delves into certain character’s motivations, the rapport we may have had with any of them often falls flat.
Tate Taylor’s direction is unable to adapt to the flow of the plot. Emily Blunt’s performance saves the movie from going completely off the rails, clearly portraying Rachel’s emotional instability and constant weariness in every scene, adding weight to an otherwise weightless script. On the flip side, Haley Bennett does well with the little she’s given, adding some depth to Megan’s story, while Rebecca Ferguson gets the short end of the stick. Ultimately, however, The Girl on the Train shortchanges its characters for mystery and shock value, culminating in a bloody finale. But it’s all too underwhelming, stagnant, and the film’s ending, especially, leaves a lot to be desired.
The Girl on the Train opens nationwide October 7, 2016.
Every year, like clockwork, Woody Allen releases a new film. And it seems like the quality of his films keeps getting worse. Café Society brings in the usual: The big name stars, the idyllic setting, two people falling in love. These elements are usually enough to do the trick, but Allen has somehow run his creative streak into the ground. Simply put, Café Society is plagued by creative fatigue, dull characters, and side plots that take away from a film that is almost one big side plot in and of itself.
Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) comes from a Jewish New York City family. His mother, in her attempt to help get him a job, calls up her brother Phil Stern (Steve Carell), a big-time Hollywood agent. So Bobby packs his stuff and moves out to Los Angeles for a while. His uncle is constantly busy and doesn’t really make any time for him, but he eventually helps Bobby pick up a job. While working in his uncle’s office, Bobby meets Phil’s secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), and he’s immediately smitten. Vonnie tells him from the start that she can’t be involved with him beyond friendship because she has a boyfriend. What Bobby doesn’t know, however, is that Vonnie’s boyfriend turns out to be Phil. After finding out, Bobby moves back to New York City and decides to help his older brother, Ben (Corey Stoll), run his nightclubs. Somehow, he manages not to get involved in his brother’s more illegal dealings. While at one of the clubs, he meets, courts, and quickly marries Veronica (Blake Lively), who just happens to share the same name as his former girlfriend. But will he ever move on from loving Vonnie?
To say Café Society lacks any true substance would be accurate. Allen continuously revives the same kinds of characters. Characters who are seeking something, or someone, they have never encountered, always in somewhat of a naive approach. The situations they’re in may be only slightly different, but this isn’t saying much because they’re always, always the same semi-pretentious, surface-level characters no matter the setting. Café Society is set in late 1930s Hollywood, with all the style and glamour that this world encompasses. Yet it feels empty, with Allen going for part cynical and part dreamy, and neither of the two working in the film’s favor. Are we supposed to have sympathy for these characters? It sure doesn’t feel that way. Every scene feels clipped and because there’s no pull toward any singular person, the film feels oddly long for a run time of only an hour and a half.
Allen’s biggest misstep is the narration. His voice carries throughout the film’s scenes, practically giving us a play-by-play of what is going on and what the characters are thinking. His narration is lackluster and is blatantly lazy writing. Instead of showing us and delving further into character development through interaction, Allen chooses to tell us. Through the narration, we also receive loads of information on things and characters that are rather useless to the plot and only serve to waste time. Café Society is filled with ridiculous and horribly cheesy lines that even all the film’s big-name actors can’t save.
Ultimately, Café Society is drab and filled with a lot of problems: Lackluster characters, bad dialogue, too many minor plots, and narration more concerned with telling and not showing. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, who I’ve always found to have superb chemistry when they’re together onscreen, are particularly good. Steve Carell is the older man who gets the girl (like in many, many Woody Allen movies), but his character doesn’t bring much to the table. Far more surprising is Blake Lively’s character, who’s barely in the film and exists only to be married to Eisenberg. Together, they have an onscreen dynamic.
In the last fifteen years, Woody Allen has made a few memorable films, but the remainder have been terrible and agonizing to sit through. Unfortunately, Café Society is another addition to that very long list.
Photos courtesy of Lionsgate Top: Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart
There have been a lot of films about Tarzan and his adventures in the jungle, dating all the way back to the 1910s. We’ve always been fascinated with stories of humans in a simpler, more instinctual setting (see The Jungle Book as an example), and our relationship to gorillas, apes and other animals works as a study of the human psyche and adaptability. The Legend of Tarzan is unfortunately less about any of the aforementioned and more about the thrill, minus any of the depth. It’s not as bad as one would think, but it is disappointing.
In 1884, King Leopold of Belgium has taken over the Congo, plundering the African country for its vast riches. Dr. Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) suspects that the king, now overextended and in debt, is using slave workers to cut his costs. Enter typical bad guy, Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), sent on a mission by the king to strike an accord with Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) that will allow for the mining of diamonds. There’s just one thing Rom has to do before Mbonga agrees: bring back to the Congo the chief’s mortal enemy, Tarzan.
Easier said than done. Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård), has reclaimed his heritage and birth name – John Clayton III – and for the past eight years has been living a civilized life in England with his wife, Jane, (Margot Robbie). While John doesn’t fall for Rom’s trap to lure him back, Dr. Williams puts forth a more convincing argument – to investigate what’s happening with King Leopold and his unjust mining expeditions. And so ensues the adventure that will find Tarzan returning to his original home to seek justice.
The film tries to manage so much that it mishandles most of the story lines, culminating in underdeveloped plots and characters. Flashing back to Tarzan’s time with the gorillas doesn’t have much effect. Director David Yates attempts to bring Tarzan into the 21st century, setting him up to be a hero who confronts real-world events. The story becomes less about Tarzan and his struggles to find a place in society after his upbringing in the jungle, which would have been far more interesting to watch. Instead, it becomes the usual hero/villain story and one that’s underwhelming at best.
Christoph Waltz’s character is frankly a bit on the dull side. Waltz can sell anything, but over time his characters, all of which are villainous to some capacity, have begun to blend together. The film makes a show of painting him as a dangerous man, but in order to retain a PG-13 rating, he’s never shown to be lethal. (Surely his obsession with Jane could have crossed into more disturbing territory.)
Although I love Samuel L. Jackson on any given day, his role here seems misplaced, and for a while, it’s as if Yates wanted to turn The Legend of Tarzan into a duo adventure, with Jackson working as comic relief and Skarsgård being the serious one who doesn’t seem as into the partnership. Robbie spends three-fourths of the movie being a damsel in distress. The film would have fared better if it had allowed Robbie and Skarsgård to appropriately partner up for the jungle adventure.
The adventure aspect of the film is fun, with the jungle action sequences full of exhilarating moments. The darker tone to the film is meant to portray the seriousness of the plot, asking us to take the film more seriously than is called for. Ultimately, The Legend of Tarzan is adventurous and has some moments of intensity, but it simply tries to be too much at once. Tarzan as a savior doesn’t really work in the way that Yates probably envisioned and the combination of villainous politics and jungle adventure strikes a strange chord. In trying to make Tarzan more of a hero, it took away from all of the more humanistic struggles the film could have explored instead.
The Legend of Tarzan opens nationwide July 1, 2016.
With sequels, one of the primary concerns isn’t necessarily whether it’ll be good or not, it’s whether or not it will taint my love for the original or if it’ll add to it instead. Such is the case with Finding Dory, a sequel to Pixar’s very successful and beautifully made Finding Nemo. The successor is 13 years in the making and, while it brings back some familiar faces, it feels fresh and engaging, but still manages to make us feel like we’re visiting with old friends.
One year after Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) find Nemo (Hayden Rolence), Dory remembers that she lost her parents (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy). Somehow, a few years back, and due to short term memory loss, Dory found herself wandering the ocean alone. Not knowing where she comes from or how she got to where she is now, Dory spends a lot of time searching for the parents she lost, as well as forgetting she lost them to begin with. Once she remembers she forgot her parents, she takes a journey that sets her on the path to California, where her parents are housed in the Marine Life Institute.
Of course, Marlin and Nemo tag along, helping Dory and making sure she doesn’t get lost. The film doesn’t spend too long on the journey getting to the Marine Life Institute, where Sigourney Weaver’s voice hilariously plays over the intercoms, but it’s rather about the adventure Dory experiences while there. Befriending a cranky and bitter octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill), whose primary goal is to find himself in quarantine and on the next truck to Cleveland, Dory finds herself recalling her childhood at every turn and scouring the institute’s every corner looking for her family. But is she too late?
Going into the movie without enormously high expectations is difficult. Thankfully, Finding Dory is as adorable as it looks and strikes all the right chords. The themes of letting go are still there, but it’s the particular theme of being a part of a family, even though there is no DNA relation, that is what really pulls at the heartstrings. Young Dory’s scenes with her parents are precious and if Disney and Pixar get anything right, it’s the astoundingly lovable portrayals of the younger versions of their characters. Young Dory is just as doe-eyed and her personality full of wonder and openness. Adult Dory is the same, which is why it’s so easy to love her and understandable why even the most cantankerous characters are drawn to her positive energy.
The film draws a bit from its predecessor, but it’s brave enough to go out on its own and bring in new characters. Only two characters outside of the main cast of fish make brief appearances. This shows that Pixar isn’t willing to rely on what worked before. And even though Finding Nemo‘s supporting characters are beloved, this is a new journey and their presence wouldn’t have worked within the scope of this film’s premise. New and fun-loving characters like Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a near-sighted and happy whale, and Bailey (Ty Burrell), a disheartened whale who’s lost his talent, fill in the space with their grand and memorable presence.
The CGI animation is beautiful. The 3D effects makes it all the more eye-popping. The Pixar team makes even the emptiness of certain parts of the ocean look both wondrous and irksome all at once. The visuals are further reinforced and more appreciated because the film aims to tell a story that is heartwarming, engaging, funny, and touching in ways that made Finding Nemo so memorable. And with a great and simple story, gorgeous visuals, and adorable characters, Finding Dory makes for a worthy sequel.
The X-Men franchise has been one of the most highly sustained superhero films for 16 years now. Six movies later, and there’s still some awe involved. In comparison to other films of its genre, and to other superhero characters in general, the X-men are probably the most relatable. The fact that they’re mutants fighting for equality speaks to a lot of the social issues that are still very relevant today. However, as a film, X-Men: Apocalypse is not the weakest movie of the franchise (that place is still held by X3: X-Men United), but the magnitude and character journeys aren’t as potent as they have been with its predecessors. Apocalypse is still entertaining and has some pretty good developments, but it isn’t as exciting as it touts itself to be and Oscar Isaac’s talent is wasted on a mediocre villain.
It’s been ten years since the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past and most everyone has gone their separate ways. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is now living the life of a normal man. He’s got a wife and daughter and works at a factory, his powers and hatred toward non-mutants seemingly set aside. Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) has opened up his home to serve as a school for mutants, Beast (Nicholas Hoult) still loyally by his side. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is working with other mutants, trying to help certain ones (like Nightcrawler, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) escape cruel treatment.
Aside from the old crew of mutants, there are new ones in the fold. Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) has just developed powers, and so his brother Alex (Lucas Till) takes him to Xavier’s school where he can hone them and be a part of a community that accepts him. There, he meets Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), a powerful, but developing, telepath. Everything seems fine, but when CIA agent Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) is investigating a long-dead and very, very powerful mutant called Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) in Egypt, things take a turn for the worse when he is reawakened. One of the first mutants and a man who can absorb and use the powers of others, Apocalypse wants a new world order and wishes to throw the Earth into chaos in order to create a better one. Recruiting four mutants he calls Horsemen–Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Magneto–to help do his bidding, Xavier, Mystique and the rest must band together to try and stop him.
The film has a lot going on. There is the introduction of the new generation of mutants, the introduction of a new villain, and a reinstatement of Magneto as a character with motive. Some plot lines are wonderful, others eat up screen time without actually adding a whole lot to the overarching story. If you’ve been watching from the beginning, you know that Magneto (and his friendship with Xavier) has always been part of why the X-Men films worked. There was gravitas to his story, reason behind his actions, and a weight to his decisions. However, Apocalypse has almost formally renounced all of these things.
Having said that, several of the older generation of mutants (Mystique, Magneto, Beast) have tapped out in a way, and it’s easy to assume that they’ve all played their parts long enough and now’s the time to move forward with the new mutants and their stories. I don’t want to continue seeing a washed-up Magneto, as there’s no more interest and no more purpose to the story to present him in this way any longer. The X-Men films have always been strong on the whole. Apocalypse retains entertainment value, introduces us to interesting characters, and has some action-packed scenes that please (the fight in the midst of the astral plane is fantastic!). However, the pitfalls of the film lie with Apocalypse as a villain. He isn’t very enthralling and lacks the sinister-like traits that have been promoted in the trailers. It’s the end of the world when Apocalypse shows up, but everything he does, from recruiting the Four Horsemen, to causing chaos, falls short and is underwhelming. The role isn’t as multifaceted and it’s hard to ultimately care about Apocalypse’s actions when they aren’t very clearly tied to the other characters in a more personal way. Apocalypse is just kind of there and his presence never warrants any excitement.
This is not to say that every aspect of Apocalypse is underwhelming. There is still plenty to enjoy. The introduction of Scott, Jean, Nightcrawler, and Storm rings in a new era of mutants. Their background stories are given a bit more weight than they ever were given in the first round of films. Jean, in comparison to the older version we first meet in X-Men, is a much more powerful psychic, and the film teases the botched Phoenix story from X3. By the looks of it, it’s the beginning stages of this arc (although how well it’ll play on the big screen without involving certain other elements is yet to be seen). The new recruits are the best part of the film. Their potential as a team is touched upon here and definitely sets up their teamwork and further character development moving forward.
X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t the event many may expect it to be, but it does introduce enough new characters and possible story lines for the next adventure. As for this film, the action is fun, the astral plane fight wonderful, the new mutants great, but the villain (and his plan) ultimately falls flat. It is the weakest film since X-Men: First Class and there are a lot of moments that are meant to be poignant that don’t follow through in terms of emotional impact or investment. Bryan Singer has potential to make the next film better, but until then, Apocalypse settles at being average.
X-Men: Apocalypse opens nationwide May 27, 2016.
(from left) Jennifer Lawrence as Raven / Mystique, Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, James McAvoy as Charles / Professor X, Lucas Till as Alex Summers / Havok and Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy / Beast. Photo Credit: Alan Markfield.
Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.
Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Jean (Sophie Turner) Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.
The Meddler is less a tale of meddling and more a tale of motherhood. It spotlights Susan Sarandon in a role that speaks to audiences. Outside of motherhood, there are themes of loneliness, moving on, and essentially trying to find purpose in a life that has lost its compass. “Anyway,” Sarandon’s Marnie says at the beginning of the film, proceeding to regale us with what she’s been up to, ending in a reassurance that she’s doing just fine. Writer and director Lorene Scafaria (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) keeps the theatrics to a minimum and by keeping it down-to-earth, The Meddler is endearing, heartfelt, and might just make you want to call your mother afterward.
Picking up what’s left of her life after the death of her husband, Marnie (Sarandon) moves from New Jersey to Los Angeles to be closer to her screenwriter daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne), who’s stressed over a new pilot she’s writing and can’t seem to move on from her last boyfriend (Jason Ritter). The introduction makes it look like the plot will revolve heavily on Marnie (who listens to a lot of Beyoncé’s “I Was Here”) and Lori’s relationship and equally give time to the both of them. However, while there’s a lot of tension in their relationship, once Marnie heads off to New York for a few weeks, the narrative shifts entirely to Marnie.
Left with money to spend and lots of time on her hands, Marnie spends it hovering over her daughter, calling her several times a day. She attends baby showers, volunteers thousands of dollars in order for Lori’s friend Jillian (Cecily Strong) to have a proper wedding, and drives the local iPhone sales guy, Freddy (Jerrod Carmichael), to night school. This is all to avoid facing the fact that she’s a widow and doesn’t quite know what to do with herself anymore. Believing that helping others will prove useful, she comes to the realization that she also has to move on and think about her own happiness after meeting a security employee named Zipper (J.K. Simmons) on a movie set.
The Meddler has the distinct ability to bring out the best in its lead character by allowing Sarandon to take front and center, letting her steer the plot instead of the other way around. It does help that the plot isn’t very heavy, either. Disregarding the fact that Sarandon doesn’t have to worry about her financial stability, she’s a relatable character in every other aspect. At any age, people can feel adrift and wander throughout life without being able to move on. And this is essentially the definition of the film’s beauty. It’s in its simplicity and human relatability which endears it to us. Marnie tries to find purpose by doing several things, all of which are helpful and good deeds, but none that truly mean anything to her on a deeper level. The bridges she must cross to get back to her daughter and to open up her heart again are her true journeys.
Not everything works. There’s Marnie’s almost-suitor, played by Michael McKean, but he shows up twice and is forgettable in the bigger scheme of things. There is also a drug episode, where Marnie swallows an entire bag of pot, but other than wandering through Los Angeles in a haze and a lot of pretty shots of fountains, there isn’t much that this adds to the film. There could have also been more of Byrne’s character. Her interactions with Sarandon are fantastic and it would have been enjoyable to have more of her journey documented as well. Regardless, The Meddler is one of those films that has a lot of heart, some humor, and a character’s journey that drives the story. And if you feel the need to call your mother afterward, then the film has accomplished its goal.
Photos by Jaimie Trueblood, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
In looking at the title of The Boss and Melissa McCarthy’s headlining name, the first thought that comes to mind is that this is a comedy. And with last year’s very successful and very funny Spy, McCarthy was on a roll. What could go wrong, right? Well, the last time McCarthy teamed up with husband Ben Falcone, we got Tammy, a horrific train wreck that couldn’t be saved. Unfortunately, the same can be said about The Boss, a film that flounders in its inability to understand what it wants to be.
Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) is an orphan no one took in as a child, so she’s always felt unloved and unwanted. While Michelle’s rocky beginning caused her to push people away, she succeeds as an entrepreneur. Her book, The Power of One, is a bestseller and, thanks to her business, she’s the “47th richest woman in America.” However, Claire (Kristen Bell), a hardworking single mother and personal assistant to Michelle, is shortchanged. Being on the receiving end of Michelle’s mean disposition and behavior is not a joyride.
Once on top of the world, Michelle finds herself in jail after an old flame and coworker, Renault (Peter Dinklage), gives her up for insider trading and all her assets are claimed and liquidated. Starting from scratch, Michelle finds she has no place to stay except with loyal and pitying Claire and her daughter, Rachel (Ella Anderson). Michelle gets into business with Claire making brownies and tries to rebuild herself from the bottom up, gaining a new family along the way.
The Boss is by no means as much of a mess as Tammy, but the film doesn’t tap into McCarthy’s comedic strengths. Tacked onto the already weak plot are several side ones that are completely unnecessary: Bell’s romance with Tyler Labine; McCarthy’s strange and unfocused relationship with mentor Kathy Bates; Dinklage’s terrible attempt to be a bad guy; and, the verbal fights with uptight scout mother Annie Mumolo.
These confusing story lines make clear that the film has no idea where it wants to go. Is it about being a mean boss? Is it about Michelle’s lonely and unloved past? Is it about something else entirely? The Boss starts one way and then veers off into various directions, quickly disintegrating in its third act. McCarthy’s Michelle is the center of the film, but without great supporting characters to bolster her journey, the film spirals into a chaotic and incoherent mess.
McCarthy makes a couple of fun quips, but the rest of the film’s comedy only rarely hits the mark; and the remainder of the cast doesn’t quite know how to keep up with her energy. Paul Feig seems most talented at bringing out the best in McCarthy, as seen in comedies like Bridesmaids and Spy, but Falcone and McCarthy together have yet to balance entertainment with a good story. The Boss is a disappointing comedy that struggles to keep its story afloat.