There is nothing particularly fun about watching a couple who’s on the rocks try to break free of their mold and cannot fathom why or how they’ve been invited to an extravagant weekend. Well, there is nothing fun about that situation if one does not enjoy absolute cringe comedy that works. If that sounds like something that would entice you then strap yourself in for some Pretty Problems, because this is cringe comedy at its finest. The movie is hilarious and feels part The Overnight, part Beta Test, and part Ingrid Goes West. There is so much to unpack from Kestrin Pantera’s Pretty Problems, written by Britt Rentschler and Michael Tennant who also star in the feature. Strap yourself in for one funny cringy weekend getaway.
Lindsay (Britt Rentschler) and Jack (Michael Tennant) have hit the speedbump of speedbumps in their relationship. There is nothing interesting about them anymore and they’re starting to drift apart. Their relationship is essentially dead and, one day, everything changes when Cat (J. J. Nolan) enters Lindsay’s workplace and develops this extraordinary friendship with her out of nowhere. With this unexplainable friendship blossoming, Cat decides to invite Lindsay and Jack up for a weekend getaway with her family and friends where things get wild and out of control. Can this weekend of debauchery and madness fix the relationship between Jack and Lindsay, or will it drive them further apart as they can’t financially or logically keep the lifestyle the weekend provided them?
The movie works extraordinarily well because of the brilliance that is penned from Michael Tennant and Britt Rentschler. They have perfectly crafted the relationship that sailed into the rocks and was never able to fully escape the rocky coast. They haven’t yet abandoned ship, but they know their days before expiration are coming and see a questionable lifeboat nearby and decide to take a risk. Getting that dynamic down to a tee and executing it well is done so infrequently that the laugh out loud results tied with the cringe of the entire situation delivers the payoff an audience delights in. The only issue with the script is that it relies too much on the cringe aspect. There is a certain line of cringe that, when crossed, can go into too much cringe territory that will turn off some audience members. However, if you can stomach it more than others, it will not be an issue.
Moreover, the two screenwriters also playing the two leads of the movie certainly helps deliver the performances that the script needs to land. Both Tennant and Rentschler are relentless in their delivery and the personas of their characters as they try to save their relationship while also exploring the new adventures presented to them by their new friends. J.J Nolan, Graham Outerbridge who plays Matt, and Alex Klein who plays Kerry, all add the extra panache the film needs to nail the cringe comedy and bring together this uncomfortably hilarious weekend adventure. There are certain moments in the film where certain characters just steal the show, and Tom DeTrinis’s performance of Georges at the winery is one of the most deadpan, funniest moments of the movie as his entire screen time of approximately 10 minutes is delivered with such shock and precision.
Pretty Problems is such a delight that brings the cringe comedy to the forefront. It excels with a great script, performances that truly shine throughout the feature, and tight direction from Kestrin Pantera. It is rare for a film to be so uncomfortable yet, at the same time, be so much fun and so enjoyable. Pretty Problems overdelivers on expectations and surpasses them from start to finish. The only problem audiences will have is wanting more from this feature after it’s over, and that’s a pretty problem to have.
Screening during the 2022 SXSW Film Festival.
SXSW Screening Information:
*Weekday, March 14th, Screening @ 11:30am CT, ZACH Theatre
*Weekday, March 15th, On-line Screening @ 9:00 am CT
*Weekday, March 16th, Screening @ 3:30 pm CT, Violet Crown Cinema 1
*Weekday, March 16th, Screening @ 4:00 pm CT, Violet Crown Cinema 3
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5.