Combustible Celluloid Review - Who Invited Charlie? (2023), Xavier Manrique, Nicholas Schutt, Jordana Brewster, Adam Pally, Reid Scott, Peter Dager, Xosha Roquemore, Peter Grosz, Rhys Coiro, Dylan Penn, Aidan J. Lawrence, Judy Rosenblatt, Jason Dubin
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With: Jordana Brewster, Adam Pally, Reid Scott, Peter Dager, Xosha Roquemore, Peter Grosz, Rhys Coiro, Dylan Penn, Aidan J. Lawrence, Judy Rosenblatt, Jason Dubin
Written by: Xavier Manrique
Directed by: Nicholas Schutt
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 101
Date: 02/03/2023
IMDB

Who Invited Charlie? (2023)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Lock-Clown

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Following a well-worn formula from start to finish, this comedy nonetheless gains traction not only from its embracing of COVID-era craziness, but also with its harmonious, lovable performances.

It begins in late 2019 when arrogant, narcissistic hedge fund manager Phil (Reid Scott) accidentally insults a pack of drunken Santas in the street. He's rescued by the slovenly, care-free Charlie (Adam Pally), an estranged friend and ex-business partner.

In March of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hits, Phil gathers up his wife, Rosie (Jordana Brewster), and troubled teen son Max (Peter Dager) and heads for their second home in the Hamptons to wait out lockdown. A few days later, who should arrive but Charlie, inviting himself to stay as well. While Phil stresses about his failing business, Charlie brings a new calm to the houseā€¦ but also a little chaos.

Evoking more warm smiles than actual chuckles or giggles, Who Invited Charlie? is cut right from the What About Bob? cloth, wherein an initially obnoxious free spirit changes the life of an arrogant jerk, and possibly helps a young person out of their shell. Every beat is familiar, from dopey montages to the shoehorned happy ending, and yet because Pally is so committed to his performance (his wardrobe consists of a ratty bathrobe, shaggy beard, sunglasses, beanies, and wildly mismatched accouterments) he keeps the material alive.

His byplay with Brewster, Scott, and newcomer Dager feels natural and never abrasive. The best scenes are his adorable interactions with an over-the-fence neighbor, Emma (Xosha Roquemore), who is spending her time attempting to bake sourdough. By the time Who Invited Charlie? slides easily into its comfy ending, we have forgiven and accepted the film's familiarity.

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