“Joshy” (2016) - Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #40 Gem Mint 10.0

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

“Joshy“ (2016)

Director: Jeff Baena

Writer: Jeff Baena

Starring: Thomas Middleditch, Nick Kroll, Adam Pally, Alex Ross Perry, Jenny Slate, Brett Gelman and more!

After his engagement suddenly ends, Joshy and a few of his friends decide to take advantage of what was supposed to be his bachelor party in Ojai, California. In their attempt to help Joshy deal with the recent turn of events, the guys turn the getaway into a raucous weekend filled with drugs, booze, debauchery, and hot tubs. Written and directed by Jeff Baena and featuring an ensemble cast of hilarious comedic talents-including Thomas Middleditch (HBO's "Silicon Valley"), Adam Pally (TV's "Happy Endings"), Alex Ross Perry (director of Queen of Earth), Nick Kroll (TV's "The League"), Brett Gelman (TV's "Married") and Jenny Slate (Obvious Child) -Jeff Baena's sophomore feature is a wickedly amusing portrayal of male bonding and emotional incompetence.

You might like this if you like: Jeff Baena, Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally, Alex Ross Perry, Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate, Brett Gelman, Jake Johnson, Comedies, Dramas, Dramedies, Indie Comedies, Indie Dramas, grief stories, bachelor party movies, Ojai, films shot in Ojai, The Deer Lodge, Official Sundance Selection (if you don't trust mine!), HBO's "Silicon Valley", FX's "The League"

I was attracted to this film for 3 reasons: Thomas Middleditch, Nick Kroll & the fact that it was shot in Ojai. Turned out to be a beautiful little story about grief and coming back to reality through friendship and more. Filled with the good laughs I’d expect from the likes of comedians Thomas Middleditch and Nick Kroll as well seeing a different side to Middleditch’s acting skills.

Thomas Middleditch in "Joshy" (2016)

I’m a rabid fan of Middleditch in "Silicon Valley". I think he plays the lead role extremely well which surprisingly I’ve found that a lot of people don’t agree with. He tends to be their least favorite character amongst the people I’ve talked to. Of course Kumail, Starr, Miller and more stand out with their inherent character eccentrics but Middleditch really shines bright to me amongst the leading straight roles in comedies across television and film. Jay Baruchel in “This Is The End” (2013) is another great example that I love but most people find the least interesting amongst the group. I feel like the role of Richard (in "Silicon Valley") was written perfectly by Mike Judge for Thomas Middleditch. I feel like almost every actor gets one of those perfect roles absolutely MEANT for them. Especially those ones we love in television.

Bret Gelman (left) & Nick Kroll (right) in "Joshy" (2016)

Nick Kroll is one of my favorite eccentric comedians. I almost can’t take him seriously in anything else and that’s a compliment. I promise. He’s one of the best, most unique, brutally honest and hilarious comedians. He first graced my consciousness in the wonderful FX comedy show “The League” about a group of fantasy football guys. As much as I DON’T understand or play sports I absolutely love this show. One of the funniest ensemble of improv comedians with some of the craziest cameos in television history. After that Kroll got his own show titled “The Kroll Show” (2013-2015) which was a skit comedy show which featured some Kroll’s best characters he’s honed over the years. Was famously seen in many blockbuster comedies amongst “I Love You, Man” (2009) and “Get Him to The Greek” (2010) but only as a one liner wonder until he started getting bigger roles like “Sausage Party” (2016) and “Oh, Hello on Broadway” (2017). He also now has an animated series on Netflix called “Big Mouth” (2017-).

I believe I must’ve been working on a project at the time because usually I’m aware of shoots that go on in the town I’m living in. I recall driving by Deer Lodge and seeing some camera setups but only now am connecting the dots. I’m usually pretty hesitant when I see my home town represented in film. I felt in on the jokes they made but am not a fan of labeling Ojai as “the perfect resort”. We don’t need more tourists which I think that label attracts. Especially during COVID (not that this film affected that as it was 4 years ago, more to future films). As much as they make fun of the town they aren’t necessarily wrong with some of their jokes. Again I felt in on the jokes but all while still painting Ojai as the safe haven or heaven which I’m not for. It’s just another town with another group of people. To filmmakers especially, if you’re gonna reference Ojai be respectful to the people still living here.

Adam Pally (left), Thomas Middleditch (middle, haha middle), Alex Ross Perry (right) in "Joshy" (2016)

Story wise all I knew was that a group of friends travel to Ojai for a bachelor party. I expected a goofy, slapstick comedy along the lines of... well, frankly Middleditch and Kroll’s other work. So when a film has an opening like the one Joshy has my comfort and relaxation level tighten up a bit. It’s one of those moments when you’re like “oh ANYTHING can happen in this story?” more specifically this comedy. Now our minds could go to aliens or something fantastic and supernatural but I’m talking more in the terms of “oh this isn’t STRICTLY a comedy”. Similar example but starting at the other end; when I watched “Marriage Story” (2019) (MAYBE small spoiler warning for “Marriage Story” ⚠️ but will try to be vague) I felt so comfortable, relaxed, invested and was having fun even despite the verbal drama here and there UNTIL Adam Driver cuts himself. Now I’m very strange and unlike most people when watching movies but the two things that make me queasy and don’t enjoy watching are needles and cuts on the wrist. Not everyone or frankly no one I know is like this when watching a film. I literally passed out during that scene and to this day have not finished the movie. I let my guard down. Now.. to be fair I didn’t eat well that day and didn’t have enough water. Plenty of other factors in play but that’s a whole other story. Back to the A story. I didn’t pass out during Joshy. But due to the first scene I think I held my guard a little closer this time but didn’t find I needed to throughout the rest of the film. Again, I don’t expect everyone to react this way this is just my own reaction. Even though my guard was slightly up (a genre I have my guard up the whole time for is horror, it’s not a negative term in my book) I was still laughing my a** off.

Jenny Slate in "Joshy" (2016)

A pleasant surprise for me was the appearance of Brett Gilman who plays Murray in “Stranger Things” and has been a comedic joy in small roles throughout films. A rising star that I always look forward to seeing. Another pleasant surprise was Jenny Slate! Also starring in “The Kroll Show” playing amazing characters! She also plays Jean-Ralphio’s sister in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”. Adam Pally was a new face for me. I thought he looked a little too similar to Middleditch in the film and I always like some diversity and distinction in my cast of characters but Pally was still standout and brought a strong layer of realism to the film.

Cast & Crew of "Joshy" (2016) at Variety Magazine

Overall, despite its small issues I have with it, I absolutely love this little movie. My fiancé’ loved it too. Middleditch and Kroll can do no wrong in our books. Plenty of funny and lovable faces amongst a sweet, hilarious and raw story.

Written by Sam Gall on 08/20/20

CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0

"Joshy is a little underwhelming when you first watch it, but the more you think about it and let it marinate, it tends to grow on you." - Allison Rose, FlickDirect

"It takes Joshy a little while to find its footing after a truly shocking opening scene, but once it does there's a nice story about friendship in the toughest times." - Sam Mulvihill, FanboyNation.com

"It's a fascinating depiction of the way men do -- or don't -- confront life's tragedies and traumas." - Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times

Official Trailer:

Rent for $3.99 Buy for $12.99 (might be on Hulu):

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