Writer/director/star Lake Bell takes on the institution of marriage in her new movie I Do…Until I Don’t. Bell plays Alice, who’s been married to Noah (Ed Helms) for almost a decade and is wondering what the point is particularly as they mull becoming parents.
Providing relationship goals or warning signs are two other couples: Alice’s sister Fanny (Amber Heard) is in an open marriage with the equally free-spirited Zander (Wyatt Cenac), showing the freedom that could be. On the other side are Cybil (Mary Steenburgen) and Harvey (Paul Reiser), an older couple whose kids are gone and who are trying to figure out the next phase of their life together. Adding to Alice’s worry is a filmmaker who is determined to prove that marriages should have a planned expiration date.
The first poster tells us “Happily ever after is a lot to ask,” which nicely outlines the basic premise of the story. The impressive cast list is at the top above the title and photos of that cast appear below, set against broken hearts and positioned so we can see where the relationships are that will be analyzed in the movie.
The first trailer introduces us to a couple of the pairings that are in the movie’s story. There’s Noah/Alice, Harvey/Cybil and Fanny/Xander. Each are at different stages in their relationship, from openly hostile to just kind of bored to open and free-spirited. That marriage is a struggle is repeated in various ways throughout as some characters struggle with crushes and other issues.
It’s pretty funny, showing Bell’s trademark sense of dry humor and tackling in what seems to be a new way an idea that’s been examined by others. The story only gets a little bit of teasing as it’s more focused on the interconnectedness of the characters than anything else.
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There’s no menu or anything, so you just have to scroll down to first come across the “Synopsis” that provides an overview of the characters and some of the story details. A “Cast” section just has headshots of the actors as well as their names and those of their characters, but there aren’t any bios or anything else here.
The “Gallery” has about a dozen production stills you can click through. The site then ends with “Video,” which just has the trailer.
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Bell talked about the origins of the story, her own experiences with relationships and marriage and lots more in an interview that comprised one of the publicity push’s biggest moments. She also spoke about her family, including her young son, how she formed all the characters and more.
Finally, she showed up on “Kimmel” to talk about the movie, motherhood and engage in other hijinks. Helms also got involved a bit, but not to the extent that Bell did, which makes sense given her triple credits on the film.
If there’s any problem with this campaign it’s that it just isn’t big enough. Bell is such an original voice and so funny that it seems like a tragic injustice this isn’t getting a much more substantial effort, particularly since the topic of female filmmakers is so hot right now. As I said on Twitter the other day, I just don’t feel like we’re talking about this movie enough. But I suppose that’s what happens with a smaller distributor because all the big studios are busy rebooting 65 year old IP.
Anyway, the movie looks pretty funny, though certainly as if it’s going to spark some uncomfortable conversations among couples who watch it together. It’s a more human and middle-class version of something like The Seven Year Itch, except the temptation doesn’t come from external temptation, just vague internal discontent.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.