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flick pick | The Puffy Chair 2005
Directed by: Jay Duplass
Written by: Mark Duplass
Starring: Mark Duplass, Kathryn Aselton, Rhett Wilkins
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: comedy
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: quintessentially quasi-adult
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor (watchability): ½/5 

Plot synopsis Josh is just another shiftless twenty-something living in New York. His band has finally broken up; he’s making an attempt at getting a real job by shifting into band management, though even booking gigs for other people’s bands is a bit of a struggle. Meanwhile, his longtime girlfriend Emily has been hinting heavily that she’d like him to make more of a commitment. On pretty much all fronts, Josh’s life just seems a bit stalled. To distract himself from having to deal with the real issues, he finds himself obsessing over a big burgundy puffy chair he’s just bought on Ebay, a perfect replica of one his dad had and loved when Josh was growing up. The chair will make a great gift for his dad’s upcoming birthday. The only catch? Josh has to drive all the way down to North Carolina to pick up his score. He decides to make a proper road trip of it, stopping to pay for and load up his new purchase, and continuing the trek down south to his parents’ Atlanta home to deliver the birthday surprise in person. With his trusty old van and a driving route all mapped out, he’s ready to go. But the night before his big trip, he inadvertently pisses off Emily. To make amends, then, he shows up at her place the next morning, inviting her to come along so that they can spend some much-needed quality time together. Unfortunately, Emily’s initial excitement about their romantic journey on the wide open road is soon squashed when a brief visit with Josh’s spacey, neo-hippie brother Rhett ends up with Rhett deciding to tag along for the ride as well.

Review We get so used to expecting movies to have all sorts of fancy artsy-fartsy bells and too-clever plotline whistles that it’s easy to forget that all you really need for a compelling flick are two very basic things: interesting characters, and a good story. Shot with shaky hand-held camera in pseudo-documentary style and featuring off-the-cuff-improvised, quintessentially 20something dialogue (peppered with lots of “dude”s), there’s not doubt that The Puffy Chair is the result of super low-budget filmmaking … and that’s not a bad thing at all. Instead of getting caught up in creating exquisitely rendered sets and composing the perfect shot, the writer-director team of the Duplass brothers focuses on letting us get to know The Puffy Chair’s two main characters and their relationship. The late-night heart-to-hearts Emily tries to initiate with Josh, who inevitably just wants to sleep, are both very funny and rather sadly telling about the state of their relationship; the dialogue is so natural that these conversations will feel instantly, painfully familiar to anyone who’s ever gone through that rocky, nebulous, where-are-we-heading-now phase of a relationship. Both Mark Duplass as Josh and especially Kathryn Aselton as Emily do a nice job of letting their expressions and body language show us what their characters are thinking inside their heads too; though you get the definite feeling that the film was shot using the brothers’ circle of friends as cast, the acting is actually quite good throughout. In short, though it’s a little rough around the edges, The Puffy Chair is a perfect example of how tiny budgets can sometimes yield far better movies than all the Hollywood money in the world.
—reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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