Behold, indie-rock hipsters: The Go-Getter, the cinematic navel lint from which She & Him crawled out to produce the almost cruel monotony of Volume One. As in Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward’s overpraised album, Martin Hynes’s film is predicated on the notion that Deschanel is—to quote our own Jimmy Newlin—“every indie-boy’s dream girlfriend.” Here, said boy is Mercer White (Lou Taylor Pucci), who embarks on a journey to find his half-brother Arlen (Jsu Garcia), 18 years his senior, in order to tell him that their mother passed away months ago. To accomplish this, he steals a car belonging to the mysterious Kate (Deschanel), who’s heard but unseen for much of the film as she bonds with Mercer through a cellphone she left inside her car—a meet-cute of preciously abstract proportions.
Suggesting a kitten licking its balls for 90 minutes, this fountain of indulgent cool gets its music from the fine M. Ward and stuffs itself to the rafters with unhinged dialogue and references to not-entirely unrelated things—like giardia, MacArthur Park, KY Jelly and Moby, who, according to Mercer’s horny traveling companion, Joely (Jena Malone), once told the girl to hightail it to flight-attendant school. You can’t make this shit up: Mercer and Kate’s most intimate moment hinges on a conversation Kate once had with a squirrel in a tree, and when Mercer goes looking for his brother at Nick the Potter’s house, Nick’s honey, identified in the credits as Better Than Toast (Judy Greer), says, “It’s Nick’s place and kiln. Did you bring taffy?” A typical come-on is “hound-dog my body,” but is Hynes trying to convey a semblance of real life or does he want to out-wit Adam Green?
The cast makes the masturbatory dialogue (preposterous in toto but weirdly captivating and credible in pieces) feel almost stumbled upon, and as a director, Hynes plies a sweet lo-fi aesthetic, even when he’s caving to when-in-doubt-storm-though-a-cornfield bad habits. If pleasingly digressive, Go-Getter is still just a lark, calling up the storytelling tradition of Twain but never plumbing a river of thought as deep as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Hynes’s story alludes to Twain’s great American classic, which is also about a boy’s coming of age, but he doesn’t sensitively or profoundly tie Mercer’s experience to the struggles of today’s underclassmen. Because the emotional needs of Bill Duke’s Liquor Supply and Garcia’s Arlen never worry Hynes as much as Jim’s struggle mattered to Twain, these characters can only be seen as kooky little bumps in a modern-day Huck Finn’s solipsistic road to snag Deschanel’s putang. It’s pandering on an uncomfortably twee scale.