If you follow the Hollywood indie film scene, you've undoubtedly encountered films very similar in conception to Christopher Jaymes' "In Memory of My Father." Set at the estate of a recently deceased Hollywood mogul, this film follows the travails of his three sons, their friends, and their extended family as they host an event to honor their father (who inexplicably lies dead upstairs). But despite the title, their father plays little actual significance to the tribute as the guests seem to be more concerned about having a party. Populated with an attractive cast and loads of self-aware dialogue, this is a solid entry into the genre--but it's not a genre that appeals to everyone. I watched this with a friend. While I liked it enough for a recommendation, despite its shortcomings, my friend absolutely hated it! He proclaimed, "that's what I call a Hollywood blah blah" movie and I can't disagree with him, per se, but I find more merit in these films that seek to please with their overly written screenplays.
At heart, this is a writing exercise. Every character speaks dialogue that is completely self-referential, self-aware, and staged. It's still smart and funny--but it's not particularly natural. As guests pop around the party, I'll maintain primary focus on the brothers. Matt Keeslar plays the eldest whose action is largely confined to a dalliance with his father's much younger girlfriend (Judy Greer). Jaymes plays one of the brothers who insists everything be filmed in memoriam. His main concerns at the party seem to be entertaining his seventeen year old girlfriend while wooing an ex. And Jeremy Sisto is the other brother who meanders around the party with Eric Michael Cole in a drug induced euphoria. There are other side plots, as well, that work with varying degrees of success--but the film's vibe is more about the whole party experience and not the individual stories.
I love clever writing, overlapping plots, and everything that highlights a film of this sort. Jaymes, who also penned the screenplay, has a talent for wording. He attempts to ground this story as a tribute to brother love, but it seems a secondary notion at best. My main issue with "In Memory of My Father" is that I just didn't like some of these people and didn't want to be trapped in a house with them. Unlikable characters are certainly essential in film--but when they aren't real (and played to rather shallow comic affect), they can be grating. A subplot involving Jaymes' best friend and his relationship woes is loud and strident. Jaymes, himself, is a rather unsavory character. But Keeslar and Greer provide some amusing highpoints (but again, unreal ones) and Sisto and Cole are the movie's saving grace. There excursion through the night is perfectly wrought and I missed it when they were absent! Still, I'd look into Jaymes' other work--this is about 3 1/2 stars but I'll round up for the impeccable Sisto and Cole! KGHarris, 3/11.