While And Now a Word from Our Sponsor most obviously owes its existence to Hal Ashby’s Being There, a timelier point of comparison is the scene from The Wire’s first season where two police detectives investigate a murder scene while communicating only with tonal variations on the word “fuck.” That was a short, witty execution of a simple concept, whereas Zack Bernbaum’s film is an extended take on an almost immediately tiresome premise, akin to the inanity I imagine would have resulted if someone decided to make an entire buddy-cop movie about two detectives who can only say “fuck.”
The film follows Adan Kundle (Bruce Greenwood), the CEO of a successful advertising firm who’s resurfaced after a year-long absence only able to speak in ad slogans. “What’s your name,” someone asks him, to which he replies, “A name you can trust.” With a few days to wait before he can enter rehab, Adan is taken in by Karen (Parker Posey) and her daughter, Meghan (Allie MacDonald), both of whom, to begin with, naturally question Adan’s sanity and get irritated by the calm demeanor that accompanies his meaningless statements. But whatever frustration the characters feel at Adan’s lack of communication, the audience is feeling it tenfold as each new scene arrives with no point other than to add to the ever-growing list of uttered slogans, a feat of compilation that would have been better appreciated as a Wikipedia entry.
It’s a testament to Greenwood’s acting that Adan never becomes entirely as insufferable as the words that come out of his mouth. But in this case, no amount of acting—or overacting, in the case of one bravado monologue performance of a Camaro ad—can give empty words meaning. What occurs instead is a total rift between the viewing experience and the world of the film: The characters eventually begin to accept Adan and act like he’s turning platitudes into deep thoughts, but the words he speaks remain suggestive of no thought at all. Even more troubling is how far the movie eventually veers from a cheeky commentary on advertising. The closing credits include a long list of companies whose products and work are included in the story, and once you consider that all the featured ads and slogans are taken from real life, and that the ending visually imitates a commercial featuring Adan driving off in a BMW, the movie’s title becomes not ironic, but an unfortunately accurate measure of what to expect across the film’s 90 minutes.
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