Director: Geoff Moore, David Posamentier
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan
Sam Rockwell is the man. I remember first seeing him in The Green Mile as Wild Bill Wharton, which was his first big role. He was actually in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) which is weird, but also kinda cool. And since the early 2000s, he’s been a legit presence on the screen. Charlie’s Angels, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Hitchhiker’s Guide, The Assassination of Jesse James, Choke, Frost/Nixon; not always the best films but he consistently delivers a strong performance. It was Moon that really sold me on the guy, that showed me that he could do anything, and The Way Way Back cemented that opinion. Rockwell is a cool guy, no doubt about it, an actor who doesn’t always pick the right movie but always comes prepared. Better Living Through Chemistry is just another mediocre film that Rockwell steals, a showcase for him, but not really for anyone else.
Douglas Varney is pretty pathetic. He’s the nicest guy you’ll meet, but let’s people walk all over him. He’s the new owner of a small-town pharmacy, but isn’t really allowed to change the name of the store. He hates bicycling, but his wife makes him do it. He knows the medical history of everyone within a 20-mile radius, but just hands out the pills, never understanding his power. His son won’t talk to him, his employees won’t listen to him, and his life isn’t very exciting. Until he meets Elizabeth. She’s the wife of the wealthiest man in town, an unhappy hottie, and a pretty fervent pill-popper. She & Doug begin a relationship based on the availability of the drugs he doles around but never tries for himself, until now, and soon they actually begin to fall for one another. But there are hurdles in the way of their care-free, drug-filled happiness: his bitchy wife, her older husband, and a snoopy DEA agent who appeared just at the wrong time and just might ruin everything.
Once again, Rockwell outshines his costars. He’s a naturally funny guy, always has a solid presence, can take on any role, and can usually get me to like anything he’s in. And I liked this movie, but just barely. Other than Rockwell, there isn’t much going for this film. It’s got some weird narration by Jane Fonda, a quick cameo from Ray Liotta, some side actors who try there best to be funny, and a plot that’s silly at best. It’s a caper I guess, one you know that will end with a ton of unbelievable loose ends and is less funny than it’s supposed to be. Both lead actresses did an OK job, Wilde as the sexy Elizabeth, Monaghan as the selfish wife. Rockwell played off both of them nicely and made the best of what he was given, but ultimately this is a film that doesn’t make an impact and leaves you feeling like you wasted your time. A few laughs, mild entertainment, but not much else.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆