Meet Bill ***
Directed by Bernie Goldmann and Melisa Wallack
There is plenty wrong with "Meet Bill," a little indie comedy that was lucky enough to get Aaron Eckhart, but its light and fun entertainment. It is likable, and it was fun to watch, and it held my attention considering the show was at 9 in the am. I was somewhat reminded of the Nicolas Cage film "The Weather Man"-a man getting slowly fed up with his life, he's on the verge of really loosing his wife forever, and then he begins to change his life for the better. However directors Bernie Goldmann and Melisa Wallack do not have the artistry and beautiful cinematography and the subtle power of "The Weather Man," and yet Aaron Eckhart is just as good as Cage was in that film.
Eckhart usually does a great job playing a jerk-see "In the Company of Men" and "Thank You for Smoking" for perfect examples of this, as well as TIFF"s own "Nothing Is Private"-but here, as the title character Bill, he manages to be likable from the very first few seconds. Complete with hair that drips a little over his eyes, Bill works for his father in law at their family bank, in a position that his father in law created just to please his wife, the lovely blonde Jessica (played by Elizabeth Banks). Bill discovers that his wife is having an affair with the local news caster Chip Johnson, whose television catch phrase is "On the Scene," and that's when he decides that he has to win her back. Already a national joke for attacking the newsman on the air, Bill takes part in a high school mentor program with a kid who is nameless throughout the whole film. The kid seems to have a greater grasp on life than Bill does, and with the help of a mall woman's clothing clerk-Lucy-played by Jessica Alba, Bill tries to make his wife jealous and hopefully win her back, all while getting in shape and changing his life before its too late.
Eckhart really is the powerhouse of a film that has a real so-so script. He's funny, light, personable, and quite the charmer. Supporting cast is pretty hit or miss-a hit being Craig Bierko as Bill's homosexual brother, and a miss being Jessica Alba. I don't really understand why they would want her in this, as all she does is play herself. In fact whenever the plot makes a curve to focus on whats going on with the kid, played decently by young Logan Lerman, it movie kind of looses its focus for the worse. It was scenes like that that made me wonder how this film even got into the festival to begin with. But on the whole "Meet Bill" is a success for the lead performance, and there are some laughs, most of them in the first half of so. It's funny how I've seen so many movies in the last few days, and all the plots seem to all intertwine at some point. I was reminded here of "Gone with the Woman," where the lead character takes up swimming to escape his life, which is exactly what Bill does. Little similar scenes and motifs and ideas have been seen in many of the films I've seen this week, and everything I begin to see a similarity, I can't for the life of me remember what movie it was that I found it similar to. Sweet irony.