Netflix recently released it’s newest film from writer/director Jim Strouse, a romantic comedy called The Incredible Jessica James starring Jessica Williams and Chris O’Dowd. The movie doesn’t follow much of a classic story structure, and is presented more as a snapshot of the life of Jessica James (Williams), a 25-year old aspiring playwright living in New York who was recently dumped and now finds herself back on the dating scene. Jessica is forced to try and balance leftover feelings for her ex (played by Get Out‘s Lakeith Stanfield), developing feelings for a new guy (O’Dowd), her job teaching theater to children, and her dreams of making it big.
Now usually in these reviews we would break down all of the great things about a movie and then discuss all of the bad, but that’s difficult to do with The Incredible Jessica James because nothing in the film was especially worthy of praise or of criticism. Was it a good movie? No. Was it a bad movie? Also no.
If there’s one thing the movie has going for it, it’s the acting. Williams and O’Dowd both put in charming and funny performances, their styles of comedy meshed together well and it made for good on-screen chemistry. The movie was cute, with some moments that warm your heart and some that make you chuckle (but only a little). Jessica Williams is a talented comedian, and I genuinely hope to see more from her in the future.
As solid as the acting was, even talent like Williams and O’Dowd can’t rescue a movie where nothing happens. Often times The Incredible Jessica James felt more like a collection of scenes than a complete story, lacking much of the conflict and ultimate resolution you would expect from, well, a movie. Individual moments and scenes were entertaining, but as a film it really could have used more of that traditional story structure we know so well. In fact, The Incredible Jessica James would probably have been much better off as a television sitcom than as a movie.
While not a bad film, there is a definite problem when an 85 minute movie feels too long.
Final Score: 5/10