TITLE CARD: Chapter 1. The Victim
INT. Movie Theater – Night
JULIUS, a gay man in his mid-30s, sits in a half-empty movie theater with his bag next to him. He plays a video game on his phone while noting that the theater was only half full for a star-studded sneak preview.
NARRATOR: Julius was a gay man, aged mid-30s, who had been having a long long summer. Due to his job, he had been working 10-12 hour days for the past four months trying to make enough money to survive. His best friend had gone on a European vacation for the summer and was only just now getting back into town. In the middle of the day, Julius received an e-mail saying there was a free screening of Dan Fogleman’s Life Itself, a new movie from Amazon Studios. Early reviews had promised Collateral Beauty-esque entertainment, and that was perfectly up his alley. Unfortunately, these early reviews seemed to have added an extra “s” in their descriptors. Inane and Insane are separated by one letter, but that letter makes the difference between boring and enjoyable.
The lights dim in the theater. The movie begins. The following two clips repeat for 2 hours.
TITLE CARD: Chapter 2. Julius
INT. Julius’ Apartment – Night
Julius, now comfortably lounging on his couch, is lit only by the glow of his computer. He types away at his review of Life, Itself.
NARRATOR 2: Hey Julius. JULIUS. You can’t just make a review out of film clips.
JULIUS KASSENDORF: Why can’t I just make a review out of film clips from other movies? And why are you talking to me? None of the incessant narrators in Life, Itself talk to its characters?
NARRATOR 2: Yeah, but I’m an actually unreliable narrator. Or, maybe you are. Maybe, I’m just a voice in your head. Or maybe you’re a figment of my imagination. What is an unreliable narrator?
JULIUS: Life, Itself is an unreliable narrator. Weren’t you listening to that goddamned movie?
NARRATOR 2: But, what does it mean by that?
JULIUS: It’s a pseudo-intellectual piece of trickery that is supposed to mean that you can never expect what’s around the next corner. Like death. Nobody expects death.
NARRATOR 2: That’s the Spanish Inquisition.
JULIUS: Stop stealing my jokes!
NARRATOR 2: It wasn’t that funny.
JULIUS: Neither was this movie.
NARRATOR: It was at that point that Julius walks out of the living room to pick up the pizza he was having delivered. In the hallway, he was hit by a bus.
TITLE CARD: Chapter 3. The Bus Driver
INT. Movie Theater – Night
The house lights raise as the credits roll on Life, Itself. Tear-streaked MARIO, dressed in red overalls, gets up from the theater.
NARRATOR: Mario, a former plumber in his late 50s, is the only one in the theater crying after having watched Life, Itself. He had a long career as a plumber fighting giant lizards who kidnapped princesses. Five years ago, after having lost his brother in a horrific accident involving a couple of rotten toadstools, he realized his heart wasn’t in saving some daffy royalty who can’t even afford a real security staff. Now Mario was feeling the pain of having lost his brother after seeing a movie where 8 people die on-screen, and another 2 die in verbal stories.
MARIO: He was-a good-a brother!
NARRATOR: Having finished the movie, Mario returns to work as a bus driver. While waiting for a stop light, he sees a tall, skinny man dressed in green overalls. Unable to stop bawling, Mario continues on, and doesn’t realize the bus swerved and ran into the front of Julius’ apartment building, hitting Julius on his way to get pizza and killing him instantly. Mario was decapitated by the steering wheel.
TITLE CARD: Chapter 4. Julius’ Return
INT. Julius Apartment – Night
JULIUS: What the fuck was that? This review is more insane than the movie. I can’t publish this. Life, Itself is a po-faced pseudo-intellectual pseudo-meta movie about how life is a series of ups and downs, so don’t dwell on your sorrows because sometimes things turn out in the end. You know…except for the people who were killed via bus, suicide, cancer, old age, or in a car accident. Dan Fogleman spends 2 hours dwelling over a circumstantial bus accident that he shows 5 separate times throughout the movie (one of which is fictionalized), and then ends with the most nauseatingly uplifting “Enjoy life” speech ever made. If you took Grandpa Simpson’s Death screams and Eric Idle’s Always Look On The Bright Side of Life, removed any sense of humor, and played them in random rotation for 118 minutes, you begin to get an idea of what this movie is. Throw in an incessantly nattering narrator who tells you every fleeting thought held by every person in this movie, and you have a recipe for disaster. But, not an enjoyable one. Just a mind-numbingly averagely boring film with a death count that rivals slasher movies. Dan Fogleman is the new Jason Voorhees, delivering a new death every 15 minutes like clockwork. But, he doesn’t have anything new to say about life: always look both ways before crossing the street, don’t let your brat of a child bother the bus driver, and sometimes death can be a happy accident because it will lead to you writing a book and reading it at an Amazon Books store in 2050 or so.