Give Me Liberty, co-written and directed by Kirill Mikhanovsky, is a new fish-out-of-water comedy that desperately wants to be something more than it actually is. Tragically unfunny and mostly off-putting, this film isn’t particularly memorable, nor is it particularly good.
The movie tells the story of a medical transport driver who decides to defy his orders and take a group of elderly seniors to a funeral, setting off a chain of unfortunate consequences when he keeps deviating further and further from the plan. If you are a fan of watching people driving for long scenes, then this film is made for you. Otherwise, you are likely to find yourself bored by what is happening.
Ultimately, the biggest issue with this movie is that it feels so repetitive that it eventually becomes redundant. Although there are a few moments that will make you chuckle, particularly in the beginning of the film, watching rowdy senior citizens is only entertaining for a period of time before you start to get annoyed. This movie is a one-note comedy, and in the worst way.
The film also spells its message out plainly towards the beginning of the movie, and it continues to push this messaging to where it goes beyond obvious to become frustrating. The film simply wants to encourage you to make the most of your life, to “carpe diem”, which is a message that keeps getting told on the screen again and again (often in much more affecting and entertaining ways).
The character development in the movie is rather weak too. Since there are so many supporting characters (the protagonist is literally carrying around a van full of seniors, among others), there isn’t enough time to explore any of them on an individual level. However, the protagonist isn’t much more compelling, predominantly because his arc is telegraphed so obviously from minute one.
Although the ensemble as a whole is pretty solid, no one is able to stand out on an individual level because of the weak script. Chris Galust, who plays the lead, is charming enough, but his delivery of the dialogue, particularly the comedic portions, is a bit lacking. The rest of the cast seems to have solid comedic timing, but when so many of the jokes are completely unfunny, how are they going to be able to use it?
On a technical level, the film is a mess. Perhaps the lack of order in the visuals is meant to create a feeling of chaos over the whole movie, but this chaos does not help to immerse you in the film, instead disorienting you and destroying the little attachment you had to the characters. The shaky cinematography and poor lighting are extremely off-putting.
Give Me Liberty didn’t really work on any level. Although it hoped to be an insightful and bouncy comedy, it ends up being a total drag because of unfunny humor and lackluster character development.
Give Me Liberty opens in theaters on August 23.