The Argument tries to have it both ways. It wants you to watch it devolve into utter madness yet maintain just enough control to make you laugh as you cringe.
|Screenplay By||Zac Stanford|
|Date Released (Digital/Theaters)||9/4/2020|
|Duration||1 Hour 21 Minutes|
|Paul||Tyler James Williams|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
Jack and Lisa have been together for three years, and during that time, the dynamic of their relationship has changed as Jack’s career has stalled out, and Lisa’s is on the rise. With that in mind, on what should be a night celebrating the opening night of a play Lisa is doing, an argument ensues. One that neither Lisa nor Jack wish to take the blame for, so they force their friends and peers to reenact the night to prove who was in the wrong and whose feelings were justified in the argument.
Jack (Dan Fogler)
A playwright whose career has stalled, which has made him a bit insecure.
Lisa (Emma Bell)
An up and coming actress who met Jack while he was having his first movie made, but has now moved beyond him and now has a lead role in a Black Mozart play.
Brett (Danny Pudi)
Jack’s agent, Sarah’s boyfriend, who hasn’t necessarily been killing it as a literary agent lately.
Sarah (Maggie Q)
A lawyer that often can come off cold and unexcited, but it is mostly because she finds Brett dragging her around to support creatives tiresome – especially since it conflicts with her bedtime.
Paul (Tyler James Williams)
Lisa’s male lead in the Black Mozart play who Jack is immensely jealous of and who has a certain swag and flirtatious manner that makes Jack wonder if something happened between him and Lisa.
Trina (Cleopatra Coleman)
Paul’s friend, who seems just happy to be in the room, that clearly isn’t someone Paul is serious about.
The Descent Into Madness
The Argument is essentially Jack’s ego and insecurity versus Lisa becoming too good for him. And in his desperation to make her smaller, instill guilt, and perhaps remind her of how great he once was, we see him, at least 5 times, try to manipulate her so that he can reestablish the dynamic they had when they met. Which at times is hilarious since you can see Jack is desperate and grasping at straws, often making him the fool as he trips over himself. One example being him trying to prove he isn’t racist one minute, when it comes to Lisa’s Black co-star, Paul, then creating a script in which Paul is so over the top that he is offensive.
But, it should be noted, it isn’t just Lisa and Jack who are having an argument. Brett, Jack’s agent, and his girlfriend, Sarah, they are having one too. And the funny thing about them is Sarah is primarily deadpan through the whole movie while Brett is, well, what you expect from Danny Pudi. This makes it so, as they reach a breaking point, you can’t help but tilt your head as Sarah loses her mind, and Brett does in return.
Oh, but we can’t forget Paul and his girlfriend, student, fan, named Trina. She is off-putting, weird, and it isn’t until she gets made fun of by “Actor Trina,” who Jack got from Craigslist, that she becomes funny. For up until then, she almost feels expendable.
On The Fence
There Might Come A Point Where You Feel Like The Argument Reenactment Has Gone Too Far
After a certain point, Jack decides to hire actors to play everyone so they can get a third-party perspective on what happened, using a script he wrote. This is about an hour in the film, and this is when the film hits a fork in the road. Either you’ll think it has jumped the shark and has gone to a place it might not be redeemable, or you’ll come to the conclusion it has reached peak comical madness.
Why do we say that? Mainly because the people who come in to play Jack, Brett, Trina, Lisa, and Paul, are on a whole other level. Mind you, that is partly due to Jack’s script but also because they play caricatures that are just too wild. Which, depending on your sense of humor, may lean into what can be considered camp or into just too much cringe to handle.
Rating: Mixed (Divisive)
The Argument is a strange little film about one insecure man’s need to be right in a world that clearly does not value his assumed talent. And in watching him trying to shift and mold everyone’s point of view into thinking he is right, maybe even talented, the absurdity builds and builds to the point the audience either drowns in the madness or is laughing while shaking their head.
Hence the mixed label. The Argument truly is divisive, for it goes beyond tiptoeing onto the line but jumps over in hopes that you’ll snatch the line back before it lands rather than let it fall into an abyss of bad taste and overstaying its welcome.