Somebody Up There Likes Me 
Director: Bob Byington
Screenplay: Bob Byington
Starring: Nick Offerman, Keith Poulson, Jess Weixler
Running Time: 76 minutes
Somebody Up There Likes Me is an indie comedy that will no doubt fly under most people’s radars. Its biggest selling point is its co-producer, Nick Offerman, who also has a supporting role in the film. Without him, I imagine this would have a hard time gaining any traction.
The film follows the life of aimless twentysomething Max (Keith Poulson), a waiter who is recovering from a divorce. He works with his best friend, Sal (Offerman), and falls in love with another co-worker, the breadstick-chomping Lyla (Jess Weixler). Max and Lyla quickly get married, and the film shows their subsequent life together in five year increments.
The two of them have a kid, get rich, have affairs and struggle as parents, all within the film’s 76-minute running time. Max never ages in appearance, and the other characters only show their age via subtle changes to their hair color. Max is also in possession of a mysterious briefcase that emits blue color when opened — perhaps that is the source of his seemingly eternal youth? Not unlike Pulp Fiction, we are never shown what’s inside.
There’s a lot crammed into the film’s brief length, yet it feels like nothing of any substance ever happens. Major life events come and go in a matter of minutes. While this is a part of the film’s shtick, it makes it hard to care about any of the characters.
It doesn’t help that Max is a completely unlikable guy anyway. His disenchanted and apathetic demeanor (think Napoleon Dynamite) isn’t appealing in the slightest, and it’s miraculous that he manages to stumble his way into success while hooking up with beautiful women as if it were nothing. Sometimes his deadpan delivery gives way to some good jokes, but most of the time it falls flat.
The best moments of the film come from Nick Offerman’s character — no surprise there — even though he isn’t given much to work with. Sal isn’t terribly different from Ron Swanson (of Parks & Recreation), but his blend of sarcasm never fails to amuse. There are also a couple of welcome cameos from Kevin Corrigan and Megan Mullaly.
In the end, there isn’t a whole lot to separate Somebody Up There Likes Me from the countless other indie comedies that have come out in recent years. Even its unique characteristics, such as Bob Sabiston’s (Walking Life, A Scanner Darkly) animated interludes, are underutilized and fail to paint a lasting impression. There’s a lot of talent in this film, but sadly it never comes together as any more than a one-off project.
On a side note, I went to a screening where Nick Offerman did a Q&A in person. Those 10 minutes of Offerman speaking were more hilarious than anything found in this movie.