“I’m a writer. Cards. Romance ones.” – Ray, Girlfriend’s Day (2017)
When you take the day off sick, you tend to either rest or watch some enjoyable films. Being off ill is never a time for new experiences, and I wish I had understood such a concept before watching Girlfriend’s Day. A film this short should be perfect for someone as ill as me. Man flu is a killer everyone, a truly fatal killer. You know, I make my notes so far in advance I watched this last month, so the fact that this ties in with Valentine’s Day is genuinely just a happy coincidence. Well, not a happy one, I’ll die alone, hopefully surrounded by DVDs. Or loved ones. Either or really.
But what better way of spending my “sick days” than watching Netflix exclusives. My seemingly infinite mission to find a Netflix special that is better than “alright” continues into Girlfriend’s Day, a Bob Odenkirk starring noir mystery film. I would like to preface this interview by saying I think Odenkirk is a phenomenal actor, with his work on Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013) and Better Call Saul (2015 – Ongoing) defined him as a great character actor. However, there’s always that awkward transition from television to film that leaves some actors out of their depth. It’s happened to a lot of great actors, look no further than Magicians (2007) as an example.
Let’s be fair, Odenkirk is a solid actor, but there’s always a time when you doubt an actors ability to, well, act. For me that was in fact Girlfriend’s Day which tries cramming as many tropes and cliches into its admirably short runtime as possible. To be fair it isn’t the fault of Odenkirk in this part. He seems to be half assing it, but to be fair I really don’t blame him considering how crummy the script is. There are sub par scripts, and then there’s something as bad as this.
Not only is the script bad, but any attempt at being inventive or unique is poor at best. The company Ray works for is literally called “AAAAA”. I kid you not, that is the name of the company. Also, it’s in this little paragraph here that I’m going to let you know that card writers in this universe are considered celebrities. No, that isn’t explained or shown to you, it’s not even implied in the slightest. The film just expects you to know this before you even begin watching it. I thought this was an odd choice, because even in fiction, I don’t associate card writers with celebrities. To be fair, I’ve never been moved by a card before.
That’s not because I’m a cold hearted coward either, that’s just one of the reasons. Most of the cards I buy simply say “Happy birthday”. See I was about to say how cards are personal to each individual and it depends on who is delivering the card. But then I remembered I’d be going into far too much detail for a film of this calibre. If the film isn’t going to go into the effort of explaining anything it wants to do then I don’t see why I should either.
Some cliches of this film genuinely were far too much for me. Some were manageable and more laughable than anything, such as the “dead wife in the photo frame” cliche, which was honestly one of the dumbest inventions in all of film. Other cliches were genuinely unbearable, such as the bartender being used for exposition and nothing more. His character traits were literally just “exposition”. He had no development as an individual character, he’s just there to run his mouth and provide to the plot.
A film has to work on paper to work on screen. If the premise is stupid then the film will follow suit. I was about to make reference to another film but then realised I’d yet to write up the review of it, so I’ll keep that hush for now. Anyways, if it sounds stupid on paper, then it most certainly is a stupid film. Am I really supposed to believe there are dirty dealings and murderous connections in the card industry? Even if they are celebrities, why should the audience believe it is in any way a cutthroat business?
Although a disaster in every aspect from acting to directing, Girlfriend’s Day isn’t one of those “so bad it’s good” films. No, it’s quite literally just a bad movie. There’s nothing resembling anything of worth throughout this film. It had a jump the shark style moment very early on into the film. There’s a bit about ten minutes in where Ray dreams of his ex-wife having sex with a human sized owl. I don’t think I’ve ever had to think about a scene for so long in all my time as a film critic and general viewer.
It should speak volumes when a film has no quotes on the iMDB page. Rotten Tomatoes had nothing either. The only way for me to get a quote was to watch the trailer or the film again, and I don’t plan on doing either of those. Okay, so I watched the trailer and took the first line of dialogue. What disappoints me the most is that the faces I recognised throughout this cast are talented individuals. I have no doubt that Michael Stephenson could make a decent movie, he has the right components there he just doesn’t know what to do with them. Then again, he was a cast member of the infamously terrible Troll 2 (1990) so what do I know?
I’m fairly sure that, at this point, Netflix will release whatever they can get their hands on. My continuous, never ending and horrifying experience of Netflix specials sadly continues, and I fear it may do so for some time. To be fair, what was I expecting from a film that only lasts an hour and ten minutes. Some disappointing performances all round, especially from Bob Odenkirk, who I simply expected better from. The writing really didn’t help him whatsoever. Characters are introduced every now and then and simply disappearing with no real reason. The plot is paper thin and what is apparent is that you cannot cram a two hour murder mystery into just over an hour. Still, a perfect film to watch with your loved ones this Valentine’s Day, better than speaking to the fuckers isn’t it?