Hot Take: From socially awkward to socially asshole, Slow Learners loses it’s way but finds it’s way back. There are laugh out loud moments but the middle 30-40 minutes derails a brilliantly comedic opening and a satisfying albeit predictable ending.
Unlike it’s title, Slow Learners starts off fast with wry, comedic wit and characters you can’t help but like. Jeff (Adam Pally) and Anne (Sarah Burns) play co-workers and close friends who decide to stop being polite and start being… wait, that’s the intro to MTV’s The Real World. Let’s try again. Jeff and Anne have no look, no game and are too damn nice. They decide they are sick and tired of being nice and make a pact to reinvent themselves and live a summer full of alcohol and sex. (That’s MTV’s The Real World, too… but only by coincidence this time.)
It’s at this point Slow Learners loses it’s luster. In the first one-third of the film, Jeff and Anne’s social dorkiness and inability to interact with the opposite sex (except each other, of course) brings charm and humor to the movie’s open. However, once the decision is made that the only way to succeed socially and with the opposite sex is to become completely intolerable assholes. Of course, this works for the characters but not for the movie as the heart of the film ends up on life support. Fortunately, the movie gets it’s act together by the end and, all things considered, becomes a mediocre film with some hilarious moments.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- From Top to Bottom, the Cast Is Funny
In addition to Pally and Burns, the rest of the cast delivers some strong comedic performances. Personally, Saturday Night Live‘s Bobby Moynihan and Gil Ozeri are especially funny as Jeff’s friends who are also part of Jeff’s book club.
- Anne and Jeff Have Great Chemistry When They Are The People They Don’t Want to Be
Neither Anne nor Jeff have any ability to communicate with the opposite sex. Somehow, this hindrance disappears when they talk with each other. The pair are very believable as close friends and add authenticity to a movie that is frequently over-the-top in it’s portrayals.
- Hang In For the Credits
The outtakes are a reminder of how funny the first half of the film is.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Length of a Movie, the Feel of a TV Show or Webisode
There were times it felt as if Slow Learners had enough to stretch itself out and deliver about a half season of a really good cable TV comedy. Such a thing does not work well in movie form.
- Slow Learners Doesn’t Play to It’s Strengths
As Anne and Jeff drift apart, the film falls apart. In addition, the strong supporting cast is marginalized in the second half.
- It’s All Been Done
Remember Patrick Dempsey in Can’t Buy Me Love? If Patrick Dempsey’s character befriended a nerdy female who squashed his desire to “become cool” until adulthood, it might have looked something like Slow Learners. Overall, there’s very little groundbreaking material presented in what essentially is a generic rom-com which is kind of sad because it didn’t have to be.