B. J. Novak, who wrote, directed and stars in “Vengeance,” may be B. J. the next big thing.
But his movie wasn’t, at least in theaters, where it played briefly and where I was the sole audience member when I saw it locally.
Now you have another chance to see this edgy, smart movie about a mysterious death and a storyteller who becomes involved in solving it.
Novak, recognizable from his role in “The Office,” plays Ben Manalowitz, a writer from New York whose social life involves the hook-up culture. Ben wants to have a podcast, and, when he learns about the death of a young woman, believes he has just the material to make his dream come true.
The woman’s name was Abilene (Lio Tipton,) and she apparently died from an overdose. Ben hooked up with her a few times, then went on his way. But Abilene really cared about Ben, and told his family he was the love of her life.
Her brother Ty (Boyd Holbrook) expects Ben to come stay with the family and attend Abilene’s funeral. Ben thinks this is the perfect content for a podcast called “Dead White Girl” about the myths we create about people and about our country.
This is a lot more than a tale about a man who encounters culture shock and finds that not all stereotypes are true. It’s deeper than that.
It has elements of a thriller, a mystery, a dark comedy and a drama, which makes it pretty much impossible to categorize. Ashton Kutcher, in his finest role so far, is charming in a creepy sort of way as a record producer.
All the characters are interesting, and this cast really delivers. Take advantage of this second chance and see it.
3 ½ stars
Rated: R for foul language and adult themes.
Running time: 107 minutes.
Streaming on Vudu, Apple TV and Amazon Prime.
Watch the trailer here.