Movie Review: On the Count of Three

When my wife and I saw the trailers for this a year ago at CinemaCon, she was really excited to see it. I thought it looked good, but felt I knew how it would end based on the premise. 

Comedian Jerrod Carmichael co-wrote, directed, and starred in this movie, a bromance that is a rather dark comedy about a suicide pact between two depressed dudes.

Val (Carmichael) is working at a feed store, and going through a rough patch. When the boss calls him into his office, you think you know where it’s going. The fact that you don’t, lets you know early on, things won’t go where you think in this film.

Val is also fighting with his girlfriend (Tiffany Haddish, who is just in one scene, but is very powerful in it). He goes to pick up his childhood best friend Kevin (Christopher Abbott) who is currently residing in a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. They decide on a suicide pact but before going through with it, figure they’ll settle some old scores.

Kevin wants to have a few words with the child therapist (Henry Winkler) who abused him in his youth. It reminded me a bit of the opening scene in The Sixth Sense

The plot thickens for Kev when he also runs into an old classmate in a diner (that scene reminded me of Michelle Williams running into an old boyfriend in Blue Valentine). 

Val wants to have a few words with the abusive father he hasn’t seen in years (played against type, and brilliantly, by JB Smoove). The scene with the three of them is terrific.

Comedian and actor Lavell Crawford (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) has a few scenes that fit in nicely to flesh out the friendship these two have.

Early on there’s a great scene with Kevin losing his temper with a doctor trying to help him. It’s very powerful, and shows he’s a caring guy. Later, he also shows his thoughtful side when calling J.B. Smoove “Sir” at an unusual time, as well during a liquor store “robbery” and how that goes down.

The humor in this doesn’t always work, but most of it lands nicely. It’s also refreshing that it doesn’t trivialize suicide, and deals with two different types of depression.

The guys have great chemistry together, and there are times it feels like a male Thelma & Louise. 

The filmmakers get bonus points for using Papa Roach’s song “Last Resort” which gives the film a more contemporary vibe and fits more as a suicide song Kevin would be rocking out with, instead of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Suicide Solution,” Queen’s “Don’t Try Suicide,” or “Suicide is Painless” (the theme from M*A*S*H*).

The movie is a bit uneven at times, and feels like a first draft that could’ve used a re-write. But it’s a tight script at 80 minutes, and for this story, it all works.

3 ½ stars out of 5.

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