We can acknowledge the constraints of an independent film budget, but the end result is a fairly monotonous experience from beginning to end.
BY M.N. MILLER APRIL 2, 2023
Acidman man has a lot in common with a Sundance darling film that came out earlier this year, Aliens Abducted My Parents, and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out. On the way, there is an oddball that their peers are bullying them. Alex Lehmann's latest film tells a story about the broken bond between father and daughter that rests its faith on the story's eccentricities that never take flight and fumble away at the chance of any heartwarming payoff. If only Acidman swapped in some out-of-this-world whimsical fun for a straightforward drama about communication.
Here, Chris Dowling and Lehmann's original script follows Maggie (The Family's Dianna Agron), a thirty-something woman running away from her problems. Maggie is not forthcoming about what is going on in her life, other than that she broke up with her boyfriend. The story slowly unveils this, but the situation is triggered enough for her to come home to her father, whom she hasn't seen in years. That man is Lloyd (Academy Award nominee Thomas Haden Church), a recluse continuously mocked for his beliefs.
When Maggie makes a 2,000-mile trek to her father's lush, green Pacific Northwest home in Oregon to see Lloyd. When Maggie arrives, she finds the word, Acidman sprayed across the house in orange spray paint. Inside the home, it's disheveled and dirty. Frankly, the residence looks like it is being occupied by a man going through a psychological break. Lloyd's best friend is his trusty German Shorthaired Pointer, his favorite sock puppet, and his favorite local waitress, Charlie (The Good Wife's Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris). Maggie immediately becomes worried about her father. Sure, she had known about his strange behavior for years, but now something different was on the agenda. He plans to talk to unidentified flying objects in two days' time.
Acidman debuted to positive reviews at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, mostly due to Church's performance. And after watching the film unfold, you would have to say this is the former Wings alum's best turn since his awards-worthy performance in Sideways. Church carefully plays his character's nuances without going too far on either side of his behavioral quirks. The counterpoint to that is Agron's turn as Maggie. Her character keeps her life private from her father. So much so that Maggie keeps Lloyd at arm's length. This plot point creates a foundation in Acidman's script for the characters to produce discovery in their relationship while exploring grudges that have been ruminated about for years.
However, that's where Acidman falters. The film has trouble producing enough of an interesting story to get the viewer to care about these characters. Frankly, the story is remarkably hollow regarding revelations and character development. The main plot about searching for life in outer space is used as a metaphor for a different type of life coming into their lives, but it lacks enough potent poignancy to be truly effective. While Church and Agron are certainly noteworthy enough to enjoy the film, and we can acknowledge the constraints of an independent film budget, but the end result is a fairly monotonous experience from beginning to end.