Ray Wentworth (Bob Odenkrik) is a greeting card writer. The best, if you ask him. We first see him looking down the barrel of the camera in closeup, waxing poetic about the poetics of card writing. Writing novels are for hacks who cannot edit themselves. Cards are the real challenge.
Following this, Ray is fired from his job at the greeting card company. He spirals downward. Succumbs to drink. Bums around watching bumfights on television. Endures nightmares in which his ex-wife has sex with a giant owl monster. You know, standard rock bottom behavior.
When Ray is propositioned in a bar bathroom from his old boss about a hush hush job about girlfriend-themed cards, his life starts branching down avenues he would never expect.
The dialogue of Girlfriend’s Day is written with some snap and dry wit. What this results in is a script that comes off peppy but unrealistic. Add to this that everyone in town is obsessed with the greeting card industry, and the film has a layer of unintentional absurdity to it (this on top of the intentional absurdity in the film).
The issue with Girlfriends Day is that it is a comedy that wants to be a parody while also showcasing the earnest struggle of its protagonist. It can’t hope to win on every account, and it doesn’t.
The shifting tone of the dramedy causes a lack of cohesion in story. The dark comedy of Odenkirk’s failing character would be enough for a film of this kind, but then there are elements of noir crime that seem as if they are intended for a different movie, a more strict parody.
Odenkirk, no stranger to playing the sad sack character, does a fine job here. He is the most consistent aspect of the film, stable while the film rides turbulent around him.
The film, given its short runtime and superficial subject matter, is harmless. But it is a harmless that comes off as bland. The illogical diversions meant for comedy really only play as absurd diversions. The plot gets in the way of the character arc, and vice versa. The film is, like other Netflix original films, more like platform window dressing than a substantive film experience.
Girlfriend’s Day: C-
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)