Ben (Jackson Tozer) is a wannabe stand-up comedian in Melbourne. He's funny. He's real. He's relatable. He's kind of stuck, but he's kind of not. Spending most of his life on stage, in his Uber or hanging out with his friends, Ben is neither the master of his domain nor a complete waste of a human being, the two stereotypes we most often find in a film such as Lazybones, a refreshingly honest and natural comedy from co-writer/director Michael Jones that will have its world premiere at the Made in Melbourne Film Festival on December 10th in, you guessed it, Melbourne - the Australian one not the one in Florida.
While Lazybones largely centers around Ben, Ben wouldn't be Ben without Lucy (Fabiana Weiner) and Troy (Troy Larkin), the three of them stuck between one generation that lived into lives of structured expectations and another generation that can, if we're being honest, be identified for its relentless self-indulgence, self-documentation and, well, "selfies."
These aren't bad things. Not at all. Lazybones doesn't judge Ben or Lucy or Troy or the generation before them or the generation after them.
It's just life, after all.
This is the tone, perhaps more than any other, that comes alive in Lazybones, the kind of little indie comedy/drama that you really hope catches on because, well, it's just the kind of film that needs to be seen. Heck, after I'd finished watching the 81-minute film I found myself wanting to start over and watch it all over again.
Yeah, it's that kind of film.
As Ben, the film's narrative mouthpiece and emotional core, Jackson Tozer is a rather stunning gem. An actor/writer/comedian in real life, Tozer beautifully captures the ups and downs of having a self-reflective, observational style of humor borne out of one's most intimate and vulnerable moments yet he does so in a way that is never less than relatable and frequently both aching and humorous simultaneously. A relative unknown to American audiences since his 2013 cinematic debut, Tozer has, for lack of a better way to say it, a sort of Chris Pratt-like charm about him that makes you not mind the fact that he's infinitely cooler than you.
Lazybones takes advantage of Tozer's charm, but it doesn't let him get away with it. Setting the film inside Ben's world of stand-up comedy is an ingenious stroke, a world where the 5-minute or the 10-minute or the 15-minute set or whatever is what really matters provides the perfect foundation for a film about life's moments that are real and true and funny even when they don't really add up to particularly anything.
Because, let's be honest, sometimes all that shit we go through in our lives doesn't actually lead us anywhere. That whole "It's made me who I am garbage?" Yeah, it's truly just garbage we make up to make ourselves feel better.
I think Ben gets that. I think Lucy gets that, at least for the most part. Troy? I'm not really sure.
Lazybones is beautifully photographed by Martin Gubbins in a way that captures that awkward vulnerability of life on the stand-up stage while also capturing a laid back naturalism that is spot-on perfect in the film's multiple one-on-one conversational scenes, whether shot in a crapper, in a bed or while basking in the beauty of Melbourne. Co-written by Jones with Caitlin Farrugia, the film's dialogue feels honest and true and the words come to life in the hands of a simply stellar ensemble cast.
While Lazybones blossoms around Tozer, one can't speak highly enough of the rest of the film's ensemble including a tremendously wonderful Fabiana Weiner as the constantly transforming Lucy, an emotionally honest Troy Larkin as Troy and a host of others.
With heart and humor and a conviction that it's okay to be unresolved, Lazybones is a film that looks and feels like real life and all its complexities and stupidities and occasional moments of brilliance. If you're in Melbourne on December 10th, you'll want to catch this film and check out the film's official website to stay tuned for other festival screenings in coming months.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic