Review - The Puffy Chair


Mark Duplass and Kathryn Aselton in The Puffy Chair

Mark Duplass and Kathryn Aselton in The Puffy Chair

 

 

Here’s a simple story about Josh (Mark Duplass), his needy girlfriend (Kathryn Aselton), Josh’s hippie-dip brother (Rhett Wilkins) and their cross-country journey to take collection of an overstuffed couch-potato chair they just bought on ebay, and take it to the guys’ dad (played by Duplass’s dad, Larry Duplass). Shot for $10,000 by first-timers, this is one of the handful of films first to be called “mumblecore” – Wikipedia tells me that this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival was the place where the term was first used. But how many other mumblecore films earned their writer/directors a bungalow on the Universal lot, as The Puffy Chair has done? The reasons for that are clear – in spite of its superficial commitment to a shoe-gazey, indie style of naturalism, this is a Hollywood movie, albeit one shot for nothing on a single handheld camera, a road movie in which most of the dialogue is improvised by Duplass and Aselton, who go into who knows what dark personal places (they’re affianced in real life) to paint a portrait of a relationship on the skids. Why Hollywood wants the Duplasses is not because of their way with a tiny budget – that way madness lies – but their ability to deliver freshness, believability, a genuine emotional connection. The rank amateur looks of The Puffy Chair perfectly suit its theme – the general rubbishness of humans, particularly males, especially when it comes to the relationship thing. Though it’s made by, and seems mostly to be about men, given its subject matter it’s quite likely that the female gender might appreciate it most. Their boyfriends will in any case deny that they were finding compensation in the fine features of Kathryn Aselton, a former Miss Maine Teen 1995.

© Steve Morrissey 2005

 

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imdb poster The Puffy Chair
The Puffy Chair (2005)
Run time: 85 min
Rating: 6.5
Genres: Comedy | Drama | Romance
Director: Jay Duplass
Stars: Mark Duplass, Katie Aselton, Rhett Wilkins
Trivia: Josh Sagers drives cross-country on a mission to deliver his father’s birthday gift – a giant purple LazyBoy.
Storyline Josh and Emily are in a relationship, but he can be inattentive and unromantic and she can shift her focus from small things to emotional issues in a moment. He invites her to drive from New York City to somewhere in Virginia to pick up a chair that he’s bought on eBay for his father’s birthday. On the way, he stops at his brother Rhett’s, outside Philly, and invites him along. Josh tries to save money at a motel, has to negotiate with the seller of the chair and with an upholsterer, and faces tough questions from Emily. He calls her “Dude,” he’s moody, and it looks as if the relationship will end soon. Is there more than meets the eye here? How do people decide? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>
Plot Keywords: birthday, motel, gift, new york city, upholsterer
Box Office Budget: $15,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $26,029 (USA) (2 June 2006)
Gross: $192,467 (USA) (8 September 2006)