"Mixed Comedy Extols Honesty and Forgiveness"
What You Need To Know:
LANDLINE starts off rather crudely and unconvincingly. However, once the well-acted story gets going, it becomes more involving, funnier and even poignant. Eventually, the movie shows that families (and people) can lose their way when there’s a lack of honest communication, honest self-examination and forgiveness. That said, despite its moral, redemptive elements, LANDLINE also contains lots of gratuitous foul language, lewd moments, immoral behavior, and some drug references. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for LANDLINE.
(PaPa, B, C, H, LLL, V, SS, N, AA, DD, MM) Strong mixed pagan worldview with some strong pagan elements, combined with some moral, redemptive elements, including some pro-family moments and a promotion of forgiveness, especially toward the end, but the story could use more overt Christian, biblical content and less graphic R-rated content; about 53 obscenities (more than half are “f” words), three strong profanities involving Jesus or Christ and 20 light profanities (mostly OMG); brief comic or light violence; briefly depicted fornication in a couple scenes (one relationship involves two 17-year-olds), plus father is having an adulterous affair, and a woman lives with her fiancé before getting married and then cheats on him with her college boyfriend, plus some other sexual references; some upper male nudity and implied nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness, smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana, and 17-year-old girl’s friend snorts heroin and gets girl to do it too, and girl agrees to go buy the heroin when she can’t, but she gets caught, so the heroin use is implicitly rebuked, but not the marijuana use; and, lying, cheating, spying on one’s father, and the family in the movie is dysfunctional, but they start to turn things around by the end of the movie, so there’s some forgiveness and hope toward the end, even though not everything is completely resolved.
LANDLINE is a poignant, engaging comedy about two sisters who find out their father is cheating on their mother while they both try to deal with their own problems, mostly of their own making. LANDLINE starts off badly but gains power and humor as it goes along, making viewers care about the ups and downs of its dysfunctional family, but there’s plenty of strong foul language, immoral behavior and drug references to warrant extreme caution despite the movie’s hopeful, but unresolved, ending.
Set in 1995 Manhattan, the movie opens by exposing some tension between a young woman, Dana Jacobs, and her fiancé, Ben. When Dana’s rebellious 17-year-old sister, Ali, discovers that their father, Alan, may be having an affair, the secret starts to bring the two sisters together.
Meanwhile, Dana’s doubts about her relationship with Ben leads to a sudden fling with her college boyfriend, Nate, who’s less nerdy and more spontaneous than Ben, but also less mature. So, Dana decides to move temporarily back with her parents, a decision that perplexes her father and her mother, Pat, and Ben even more so. At the same time, Dana’s younger sister starts behaving even more rebelliously and irresponsibly. She not only sneaks out of her family’s apartment to stay overnight with her boyfriend, but she also has a female friend, who supplies Ali with marijuana and who’s experimenting with heroin.
Will Dana decide to get back with Ben and go through with their upcoming marriage? Will Ali become more mature? Will their mother find out about their father’s apparent affair?
In addition to the conflicts mentioned above, it’s revealed during the movie that the father, who works as an ad salesman, is a wannabe playwright. The mother is a high-powered bureaucrat at the local federal environmental office, who’s developed some resentment toward her husband. Their troubled relationship is one of the reasons Dana is having doubts about getting married and settling down with Ben for the rest of her life.
LANDLINE starts off rather crudely and unconvincingly. However, once it gets going and starts revealing the character traits of the family members and the tensions between them, it becomes more involving. The acting helps solidify this, including the performances by veteran actors John Turturro and Edie Falco of THE SOPRANOS and NURSE JACKIE as the parents. SNL alumnus Jenny Slate plays Dana, and newcomer, child actor and musician Abby Quinn plays Dana’s sister Ali. Falco and Turturro were born in Brooklyn, and Slate was born in Massachusetts, so there’s definitely a New York and East Coast state of mind to their performances, but it rings true. Quinn hails from Michigan, but her performance also has a New York quality to it.
By the time it’s over, LANDLINE manages to humanize the flawed characters it portrays. Eventually, the movie shows that families and family members can lose their way when there’s a lack of honest communication between them. It also shows that part of honest communication with others requires an honest self-knowledge about one’s own flaws. This leads to a hopeful and forgiving, but not completely resolved, ending. The spirit of honesty and forgiveness in the last few scenes make a positive, lasting impression.
The problem is, however, that the movie is more of a psychological and social exploration. Religion doesn’t really play a role in the story, although the movie makes it somewhat clear that cheating on one’s spouse or fiancé, hiding things from your parents, and flirting with hard drugs are morally bad and can be personally destructive. Of course, without a spiritual foundation resting on a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, morality and ethics don’t have a sufficient, objective ground on which to stand.
All in all, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for LANDLINE, which also contains plenty of foul language, some gratuitous lewd moments and references to marijuana and heroin. SPOILER ALERT: Ali eventually gets in serious trouble when she agrees to buy some powdered heroin for her friend. Though her actions are rebuked, and it appears she learns her lesson, some vulnerable viewers still may be tempted by seeing such content. What isn’t really rebuked, however, is the teenage sister’s sexual activity.