There’s something so powerful about not taking yourself too seriously. It’s not an easy thing to do, especially for a certain kind of man. I alternate between being exactly that kind of man, and then being self-aware enough to see that I’m being that guy and recoiling away from it. That is to say, I tend to vacillate between taking myself too seriously and not taking myself seriously enough.
That kind of all-in or all-out emotional swing is the center of a lot of my personality. I don’t tend to do things in a particularly balanced way. My own idea of balance is to create an impression of the center by existing at both alternate polls. My therapist refers to this as being either hypo- or hyper-aroused. My goal in my own therapy is to figure out how to be ok with living in that gray area middle that allows me to be truer to an authentic version of myself. To be able to be who I am when I’m all alone.
All of that is a lot, and very personal. What I’m getting at, is that I identify the most with Carl. He’s Parker Posey’s boyfriend, and he takes himself way too seriously for almost the entire film. His journey, which is not the central one at all, is from viewing himself in kind of a mythic way, to slowly becoming aware of his own nonsense. I think that’s unbelievably important for anyone to do, but especially for the kind of Gen-X man-child that was such a staple of these nineties indie comedies. I know it’s been an important part of my own growth.
I love this genre. I was fifteen in 1996, and completely primed for this kind of movie. I love basically all of them, and I have a special place in my heart for actresses like Parker Posey, and Hope Davis. This was my coming-of-age cinema, and so I’m hardly able to be objective, or really to deconstruct it in any meaningful way. All I can say is that I can’t believe I never saw this when it came out, but I’m so happy I got to see it now.