There’s movies you want to see but don’t necessarily want to be in the mood for, and About Alex was one of mine. It’s about a group of college friends coming together years into post-grad life after one of them attempts suicide. Not a joyful Friday night, huh? But Alex has a relatable humor and honesty about it that makes it less of a downer and more of a “well that was nice” experience. Jason Ritter plays the title character, and the house Alex lives in is the perfect setting for this wanna-be 80’s flick of friendship. Cluttered just enough to be beautiful but realistic, the story is filmed through doorways and windows and makes you feel a part of it all.
The cast is star studded but it’s also made of actors in their mid-30’s playing characters who are, at most, 27 according to timeline the plot eludes to several times. Silver lining here is that Alex provided the opportunity to see some actors perform in a way I hadn’t seen. For example, having recently dealt with the trauma of Max Greenfield being a sexually assaulted drug addict in American Story: Hotel, it was much more pleasant to see him as Josh, the circle’s tough love member. Aubrey Plaza, famous from portraying the lovably sour April on Parks and Recreation, starred as the successful at work but not in love Sarah, though I had a hard time believing anything she said. Positively, all of Plaza’s silent, reactionary moments in the movie were poignant and made me better see her as anything but April. Or Janet Snakehole. And the remaining five main characters are equally interesting. Lately I’ve been watching so many things based in fantasy or science fiction that to watch a film solely about people with down to earth problems was refreshing.
The script and its moments also felt natural, which came as no surprise when I realized its writer Jesse Zwick had worked on Parenthood— and how could you forget my 2015 Parenthood obsession? Alex was also Zwick’s directorial debut, and though it is easy to say it’s a remake of The Big Chill, I’d argue it’s still worth watching. Even with its forced commentary on social media and millennial lifestyle, often predictable plot points, and ending which I still can’t decide if I love or loath… Alex is sweet, pretty, and brings together eight young, rising talents.