I’ve Got Issues, 2020.
Written and Directed by Steve Collins.
Starring Macon Blair, Claire Titelman, Maria Thayer, Sam Eidson, John Merriman, Paul Gordon, Randy E. Aguebor, Byron Brown, Courtney Davis, and Jim Gaffigan.
A comedy about despair and what to do with it.
Let’s get one thing out of the way upfront for anyone that might be curious about checking I’ve Got Issues out based on the involvement of Jim Gaffigan (a reliable comedian who has recently been taking on more dramatic and challenging roles as of late); he’s just the narrator. Writer/director Steve Collins (making his third narrative feature debut) has constructed roughly 30 different quirky sketches comprising a 90-minute movie, and if that already sounds worrisome you should pat yourself on the back because as much as I don’t like harshly criticizing amateur filmmakers taking a chance, the movie is absolutely awful.
In what could be construed as unintentionally funny, Jim Gaffigan’s narrator begins voicing existential musings as the film cuts between the various everyday people suffering miserable lives trapped in their own individual boring routines. This ranges from seeking spiritual healing, depressed and recording songs in hopes of making it to Hollywood, falling in love with musicians, pressured into an internship grounded in white supremacy, your standard office job, and the incredibly bizarre such as a man wrapped in tinfoil and pizza. There also appears to be some kind of end of the world bomb incoming, but barely factors into the overarching narrative which is already loose and pretty pointless. I couldn’t tell you who plays who either given that the cast is entirely unknowns aside from Macon Blair, who is much better than this material.
It’s okay to abandon any semblance of a real plot, as much of I’ve Got Issues is vagueness shrouded in deadpan humor with the cast playing multiple characters, but for a movie that’s firmly decided to go the route of strictly comedy skits, it’s consistently aggravating that the movie is rarely funny. It assumes quirkiness is enough without actually characterizing anyone, and in some questionable choices decides to make light of situations like suicide. It also seems fair to say that the movie has good intentions and might be trying to say something about racial oppression or mental health (the ending encourages unity and togetherness), but mostly just comes across as a bunch of boring and/or tasteless jokes. To be honest, I’d actually be more forgiving if the black humor actually made me laugh. It never did.
Admittedly unfamiliar with Steve Collins, I wouldn’t be surprised if his short stories (and even the occasional documentary he does) has some merits, it’s more that the structure he is going for here falls apart from the start. There are no laughs to be had, no characters to find interesting, and nothing greater at play besides increasingly becoming more idiosyncratic. The final sequence is called “I see the light” which is appropriate considering viewers will see the same way given that by that point there are only 5-ish minutes left in I’ve Got Issues. And yes, some of the skits really do range from 30 seconds to minutes, which is just as confounding and offputting as everything else about the movie. The film itself has more issues than the characters inhabiting it.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com