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Expired
Genre Comedy
Year: 2007
 
Review:

You know how someone will say one thing, but mean something else... well, Expired is a good example of this phenomenon. For starters, it hasn't expired - it may not be as fresh as Chinese take out, but just as enjoyable, entertaining and thought-provoking. Most people see movies because they don't want to provoke thought and "planning an escape" isn't as dirty as it was in the '50s. Expired seems like the set up for a quirky "romcom" from the outset, but the very presence of Samantha Morton (Synecdoche, New York) and Jason Patric suggest otherwise.

Expired tells the story of Claire (Morton) and Jay (Patric), two Los Angeles parking enforcement officers, who begin a shaky relationship, which turns into turbulent, explosive and prickly comedic scenarios with colleagues and family as they both seek meaning and intimacy in their dead-end lives. Not exactly a first date movie now is it?

Morton is a serious actress, and apart from that twins-in-the-hot-tub scene in Minority Report opposite Tom Cruise, she tends to choose challenging roles. Jason Patric is the wild card, dark horse and A-grade "asshole" in Expired. He's a mixture of Will Ferrell in Anchorman and Thomas Lennon in Reno 911 - and he's come a long way since the days of Speed 2: Cruise Control. Sandra Bullock managed to haul herself out of that ship wreckage to win a Golden Globe for The Blind Side this year, and Patric has gathered momentum with this nasty dinner date quality performance. Was he tapping into his own persona or was he just pretending to be Roger Moore as James Bond... you decide.

Expired ripples with subtle comedy. It's more of a dramedy really... starting out sweet and fun like Paul Blart: Mall Cop and the coming in with the left hook with a strong dose of Observe & Report's acidic humour. It's funny at times, but I wouldn't describe it as easy viewing. The audience is roped into some fairly tense, emotional turmoil as prickly, sometimes dark comedy filters through the relationships and real-life situations. Relatively unknown writer-director, Cecilia Miniucchi delves deeper into the characters, extracting a soulful performance from Morton and a performance akin to an angry, straight-faced Ben Stiller from Jason Patric.

Miniucchi unhinges the camera, allowing it to rove, swirl and shift its attention, much like a bystander. This emphasises the voyeuristic perspective, keeps the audience involved and allows more flow with longer shots. Expired's offbeat sense of direction, subject matter and overall feel is a lot like Punch Drunk Love, starring Adam Sandler and He Was a Quiet Man, with Christian Slater. The explosive anger, on-and-off romance and feelings of inadequacy are similar to Punch Drunk Love. While Patric's breakthrough performance mimics Slater's and some serious issues are dealt with in an unconventional yet funny way.

The setting is Christmas time, the decorations are blinking and the mail order industry is flourishing. The mousy decor represents Claire's life, committed to her mute, wheelchair-bound mother and holding onto every little bit of sentiment that comes her way. She's a complete opposite to Jay, whose devastating personal life, cold bachelor pad and sexual frustration may as well be tattooed on his forehead. Their only commonality is that they're both lonely and opposites attract and repel as the two clash in a funny, yet sad set of interactions.

Expired is loaded with bad language and some very uncomfortable scenes (on par with There's Something About Mary), so unfortunately it's not the feel-good movie of the decade. It is however, a good choice if you're looking for some mental and emotional stimulation. Expired falls into the same category as Napoleon Dynamite... defying genres, developing instant cult appeal and sitting on the fence for you to admire or throw rocks. As mentioned, it's like ordering Chinese take out... it's out of the ordinary, something different, somewhat chewy and tastes good, even though you know you probably shouldn't have.

The bottom line: Twitchy.

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