'Enough Said' about marriage in witty, realistic dramedy

Fox Searchlight

By Andrew McClure, Daily Arts Writer
Published September 30, 2013

One of the unspoken laws of being a faux-polite, shitbag teenager is the obligatory laugh in response to an adult’s lethally unfunny remark. I found myself jaw-ajar at how many 50-something theatergoers wizzed their diapers at this breed of adult humor in “Enough Said.” Old people aren’t funny, I mused. It captured the age-old social disconnect between over-sexed youth and over-grayed elderly. Soft-shelled yet emotively dense, one of James Gandolfini’s final pictures reminds us of how marriage and divorce each tell a remarkably similar narrative and how humor is relative.

Enough Said

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Michigan Theater

Filmmaker Nicole Holofcener (“Please Give”) convinces viewers that she has been happily divorced then reluctantly remarried umpteen times. She knows divorce and she knows it well — from the subtle yearnings for something better to the wrinkly irritability that comes with age. We suffer a real dilemma: We want everlasting youth because of its roll-with-the-punches energy, yet adulthood offers a deliciously fat dose of reality.

Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Planes”) is a divorced masseuse mothering a soon-to-be high school grad who hauls her mammoth black trunk full of massage gear anywhere the demand calls. Her clients vary from gingivitis mouth-breathers and garrulous soccer moms to unaware 20-something jocks. Eva’s friend Sarah (Toni Collette, “Little Miss Sunshine”) invites her to a cocktail party where she meets two significant people.

First, a new client Marianne (Catherine Keener, “Cyrus”) who writes poetry for a living — something Eva pokes innocent fun at: “Oh, so you’re actually a poet?” But more importantly, a new love interest develops with Albert (James Gandolfini, “Killing Them Softly”) as they agree on the collective ugliness of everybody at the party. With time, Eva grows close to each one as a friend and girlfriend, respectively. This gossip and sex add buoyancy to Eva’s knit-in-her-free-time life. Then shit hits the fan: Turns out Marianne and Albert divorced each other not too long ago.

Cool pick, Eva. Cool pick.

The supporting cast lends a razor wit, a conscience, even a balance of mind to our slightly disillusioned Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini. Collette’s character creates a thematic subplot of trust between herself and her fired-then-hired-back housemaid as she accuses her of putting “random shit” in random drawers, like hairbrushes with forks. Her equally whiny husband (Ben Falcone, “What to Expect When You're Expecting”) grumbles his desire to be married to someone “who likes history.” To which Collette retorts, “Hiiiistory? What!” It’s become a convention that the second-most important couple draws bigger laughs.

Synergy between Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini as new lovers leaves an indelible mark with dry humor and recess-like playfulness as the key stain agents. They bust each other’s balls over innocuous things like their children heading to college, eating habits and a penchant for “real boobs.” Here’s the thing, though: They’re adorable in the way your grandmamma would describe it. Again, they don’t spoon-feed us a funny every other line. In fact, these two embody real people, people who don’t wield ready-to-fire witticisms on their utility belts at all times. As viewers expecting a funny pic, we’re charmingly surprised by the pair’s genuine moments of awkwardness, frustration and swallow-your-spit anxiety. It’s just naturalistic.

Hyperrealistic predecessors like Tom McCarthy’s “Win, Win” or Noah Baumbach’s “Greenberg” sold us before. At the compromise of a few cheap, out-of-context, highly contrived jokes that many dramedies shove into their scripts, “Enough Said” rather lets the surface humor coexist with normal, kind of uninteresting conversation that, guess what, most people have.