FRIENDED TO DEATH Movie Review…Meh
I hate when this happens. An actor, director, writer, producer or someone involved in a project is someone I absolutely love, but I can’t get behind it. Then it’s part of my job to tell you all about it, even though I really may not want to do so. In this case the actor is Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars, Party Down) and the film is Friended to Death.
Friended to Death follows Michael Harris (Ryan Hansen) as he has what he equates to the worst day of his life. He loses his job as a parking enforcement officer because of his obsession with social media. Looking for solace from his best friend, Joel (Zach McGowan of Shameless) he discovers that said friend doesn’t feel the same. In fact, Joel decides due to Michael’s social media stalking that he isn’t interested in being friends with Michael anymore. ‘Friendless’ and jobless, Michael turns to his social network for solace and a little passive aggressive relief. He decides to fake his own death on social media to see how may people would go to his funeral. Michael gets caught up in the attention and what is meant to be a prank to make Joel feel bad takes on a life of its own. Check out the trailer below.
I always enjoy Ryan Hansen’s work and was disappointed to find that the story was lacking, as was the majority of the cast. Hansen is his usual charismatic self. His character is unfortunately not quite as likable as I wanted him to be. In fact, it’s hard to like any of the characters. Not because they are terrible people, but because they are very one-dimensional. The performances lack range, each actor exhibiting either one extreme (mundane) or the other (over the top), but not both extremes in one character. Next to Hansen, the rest of the cast just seems lackluster.
There is a character played by Director Sarah Smick who spends the film following Michael around taking pictures and mumbling to herself. Her inclusion in the film really doesn’t make a lot of sense and throws the story off repeatedly. Rather than being intrigued by who the mysterious woman in the car is, I found myself annoyed by her as her pop-ins didn’t seem to fit. One person that does hold his own and does exhibit more than one facial expression throughout the film is James Immekus (Once Upon a Time) as Emile Lewis. Emile works with and is fired from the same job on the same day as Michael and becomes the friend that helps Michael pull of his fake online death. Immekus has excellent comedic timing and good chemistry with Hansen. If the pair had been backed up by a more well rounded cast and slightly more well developed story they could have brought a few more laughs and the film would have come across as intelligent satire rather than a whiny pieced together story about a boy who got his feelings hurt.
Sadly, I did not come away a fan of Friended to Death. I think Ryan Hansen brings his comedic A-game to the role of Michael as he has to any role I’ve seen him take on and James Immekus compliments him well, elevating the story where he can. The film really was this close to succeeding with a topical story, young popular lead and some genuinely funny moments. Don’t get me wrong, there were funny points in the film, definitely laugh out loud moments, but there was no flow, no real substance and a strange resolution. I wanted to like this film, and thought I would, but it just didn’t happen.
Friended to Death is out on VOD currently and is out in theaters in limited release currently. Make sure to follow Screen Invasion on Twitter and Like us on Facebook for the latest in pop culture news, reviews and interviews.