2017, NR, 90 min. Directed by Noël Wells. Starring Noël Wells, Nick Thune, Britt Lower, Doug Benson, Daniella Pineda, Andre Hyland.
REVIEWED By Danielle White, Fri., Oct. 27, 2017
The postscript to nostalgia is that we selfishly expect things to remain preserved in the state in which we last left them, like a favorite photograph in an old shoebox, a sentiment conveyed neatly enough in the opening montage of indie comedy Mr. Roosevelt. Struggling comedian Emily Martin (Wells, Master of None) returns to Austin from L.A. to tend to her cat, the titular Mr. Roosevelt, left in the care of hipster ex-boyfriend Eric (Thune, The Breakup Girl) after she completely ghosted on them two years before. She is somewhat dismayed to discover that Eric has a new girlfriend – the gluten-free, herbal-tea-sipping Celeste (Lower), who has encouraged him to ditch music for Realtor school – but is too poor to decline the offer to stay the weekend with them at their house.
Of course the city has changed, because we all know Austin is never quite as good as it was five minutes ago. Nearly every shot of the film, which Wells (a UT grad) also wrote and directed, holds a heavy dose of local scenery: from the Greenbelt to Hyde Park Theatre to that yellow & orange-striped Ford pickup truck that can be seen tooling down 38th Street (set porn – if that’s a thing). Austinites are sure to spot a few familiar faces as well.
Mr. Roosevelt is one for the “I don’t know” generation: Emily, the stereotypical millennial capable of experiencing existential angst over anything from “What should I eat for dinner?” to “Is my art any good?” is so badly in need of self-reassurance that she’s a complete asshole to everyone around her. Wells wears a look of consternation with a 50/50 chance she’s about to bite someone’s head off or burst into tears. In some sense, she’s the “old Austin” pointing a finger at the newcomers who are ruining everything with their special diets and meditation apps and abstract job descriptions – a modern Holden Caulfield outing all the “phonies.” Luckily, newfound best bud Jen (Pineda) doesn’t go in for much of Emily’s crap, though the connection feels rushed at best. It’s Austin, so it seems somewhat appropriate for a casual acquaintance to act as spirit guide, but people don’t just go around trying to yank each other out of the Velvet Rut, OK? This ditch is way too comfortable.