You are going to love this or you are going to turn it off, 15 minutes in, after or during a spell of head scratching. There will be no middle ground.
To sum up, it’s an unusual movie.
But, let’s jump to the beginning. A narrator (Thomas Sadoski) is talking about the time someone was in his (the narrator’s) attic with his (the narrator’s) Saint Bernard, when the dog fell through the floor and landed on the kitchen table. And there, onscreen, standing in the kitchen is a man known only as The Kid (Jake Robinson). The dog is next to him, and he’s fine.
In another home, a gaggle of women - Oh, look: There’s Marilu Henner, Jessica Walter, and Didi Conn - along with The Kid and - why, there’s our narrator, now, sitting with them - are talking about their careers at the local small-town newspaper.
I think it’s OK to reveal that nobody in this movie has a name, or at least no names are mentioned. So, there’s The Kid and The Narrator, after the newspaper meeting, walking and talking in a suburban New York neighborhood. We find out that The Kid is 31 and is married. The Narrator is a widower and isn’t about to give his age (he looks a little older). The Kid and his wife are into mushrooms and ducks, and The Kid, alone, likes hunting for bear and moose. The Narrator is a screenwriter and he has a beach house.
These are two strange guys having a very odd discussion, which is accompanied by bright, breezy music, but doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
The Kid and The Narrator are neighbors. The Narrator is convinced that The Kid is a sociopath, so goes to a library to read up on the topic. Mention is made of the 2005 nonfiction book “The Sociopath Next Door.”
There are a few other people in this movie, all of them in cameo roles, among them Austin Pendleton (The Driver), Gina Gershon (an oversexed woman in a bar), M. Emmet Walsh (The Director), and Matthew Maher (The Waiter). But it’s The Narrator and The Kid who do most of the talking - some of it with each other, some of it narrated.
It’s not just talk; it’s banter. It goes back and forth. There are intrusive questions and flippant answers. It evolves into borderline arguing. They each fire off accusations to the other person that he is mimicking him. Wait! News flash! The Narrator is 41.
Driving home after a not-so-nice restaurant dinner (in which delicious-looking food is served but none is eaten), The Kid is irked by a tailgater - please say hello to The Driver. Things lead to an “accident” and a week-long hospital stay, with The Kid and the Narrator sharing a room and bringing the topic of Febreze air freshener into the maddening conversation.
When they’re finally back home, wearing soft neck braces, all sorts of information is released into the script’s ether, possibly the most important bit of it being that cats close their eyes when they eat. (I haven’t Googled that yet, but I’ve decided to believe it.)
There’s another dinner, this time at The Kid’s home (sorry, his wife is out for the night), where accusations and complaints are leveled by each to the other. The Narrator, growing angry, says, “The most interesting thing about you is me.”
Now, six months have passed and you’ve got to wonder, “Where can this possibly be going?” Well, it goes to a very competitive nighttime tennis match, with them still talking throughout.
But, here’s the deal. Even with one of the characters wearing bright red pants, even with supposed resemblances to the plot of George Cukor’s “Gaslight” (and a clip from that film), and the endless barrage of absurd dialogue and discussions, this is a whole lot of fun, due mainly to the fact that the two actors play it all just about straight, with only a little bit of a wink tossed in. It’s a tough trick to pull off, and both of them are up to the task.
But, you are going to love this or you are going to turn it off. The only way to find out is to watch it.
“The Mimic” opens in select theaters and premieres on VOD on Feb. 5.
Ed Symkus can be reached at email@example.com.
Written and directed by Thomas F. Mazziotti
With Thomas Sadoski and Jake Robinson