Review: Peep World (2010)

I had never heard of Peep World before it popped up on the “Newly Added” section of the free OnDemand channel. But the description did list it as a comedy starring Michael C. Hall and Sarah Silverman, so I gave it a shot.

And though there are a few funny moments, the deliberately-uncomfortable screenplay mostly misses its mark, failing to elicit sympathy for any of its characters.

Peep World revolves around the Meyerwitz clan: Jack, the family’s partriarch, is a wealthy real estate developer. Youngest son Nathan (played by the perfectly unlikeable Ben Schwatrz) has penned a novel, ostensibly about growing up in the family; although he’s changed the character’s names, there’s no mistaking who they’re modeled after.  The film revolves around the leadup to an annual dinner that the four grown-up children have with their father and divorced mother.

The Meyerwitz family is an offbeat bunch, each child flawed in their own way. Hall plays Jack, the “successful” brother who, as it turns out, isn’t all that successful. But he does serve  to hold the family together, if only by a thread. He helps Joel out with money — even though he shouldn’t — and tries to keep Cheri and Nathan from each other’s throats.

Rainn Wilson plays Joel, probably the worst-off of the bunch. Joel lives in a dumpy apartment, and has been through rehab and failed the Bar exam multiple times by his late 30s.

And Silverman is well-suited in her role as Cheri, the Daddy’s girl of the bunch who has serious issues with Nathan’s book, threatening to sue him at every turn.

While the cast is strong, they’re mostly wasted here. You may see traces of yourself in any of the characters, but nobody is easy to empathize with. Clearly, they’re not supposed to be particularly relatable, but at barely 80 minutes, the film wraps up before we know what these people are all about. We find out a small amount about each of their backstories, but little about who they actually are.

If there was a section on the OnDemand for dark comedies, Peep World would fit more comfortably there. But the occasional comic moments don’t make the film any easier to stomach.

These characters are impossible to really care about, so the film’s climax rings empty.  Despite a star-studded cast, you just won’t give a peep.

Rating: * *  out of 5

photo: IFC 

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