Apartment Troubles is billed as a comedy, which makes sense in some ways. It certainly has a few cameos from comedians of note in it (specifically Jeffrey Tambor, Will Forte, and Megan Mullally). It’s got some typical indie comedy quirks, right down to the struggling artist profession of the protagonists & the CoCoRosie song on the soundtrack. It’s even got some great jokes from time to time, especially from Mullally, who is a hoot as a wealthy drunk who is really into gigantic wine glasses. On the other hand, it’s not an overwhelmingly funny movie, but more of a low-stakes drama that aims more for humorous melancholy than knee-slapping quips & gags. Apartment Troubles might be dressed up like a comedy, but it’s more quietly sad than anything.
The story begins with two NYC roommates confronted with eviction & the sudden death of a pet. As an aspiring actress & a visual artist with wealthy parents, the pair occupies a strange space between well-to-do & dead broke. These are people who can take a private jet to vacation in Los Angeles on a whim, but have to claim that they’re not eating because they’re “cleansing”, when the truth is they can’t afford food. While in LA, the two best friends start to bicker & rub each other the wrong way like an old married couple. At the beginning of the film they’re comfortable enough to ask for the shirt literally off each other’s backs (“Can I wear the shirt that you’re wearing?”), but by the end they’re sickened by each other’s mere presence (“If I feel your breath on my skin for one more minute, I’m going to vomit.”). It’s definitely easier to read this progression as a somber break-up story (between friends) than a riotous indie comedy.
In a void, Apartment Troubles is a pretty okay, low-key movie with some memorable performances in its fleeting Jeffrey Tambor, Will Forte, and Megan Mullally cameos. However it’s difficult not to draw comparisons to other emotionally-stunted NYC twentysomethings media that have been produced lately. If nothing else, I found myself wishing that I was watching Appropriate Behavior a second time instead. I realize this kind of direct comparison is completely unfair & it’s something I already said while reviewing the recent break-up drama X/Y, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Appropriate Behavior was something really special. Apartment Troubles is from the same funny-melancholy NYC break-up wheelhouse, but feels just okay at best. It’s the kind of film that’s pleasant, but destined for lazy afternoon Netflix viewing rather than the big accolades I’m hoping Appropriate Behavior garners.