Rated PG-13, 93 minutes
The familiar yet touching new dramedy "Dean" is about love, loss and grief, subjects many of us are all too familiar with. The sweetly pensive film often struggles to find a voice, but a talented cast finds some poignant moments.
Dean (Demetri Martin) is an NY illustrator who falls hard for an LA woman (Gillian Jacobs) while trying to prevent his father (Kevin Kline) from selling the family home in the wake of his mother's death.
Directed, written, co-produced and starring comedian Demetri Martin, a "Daily Show" and "Comedy Central" alum, "Dean" is a charming and relatable, yet overly familiar indie comedy with its heart in the right place, even if it struggles to find a way, particularly a sluggish middle act as Dean spends much of his time trying to figure things out after his mother's death, then falling in love with the wrong girl ("Community's" Gillian Jacobs).
The most memorable thing "Dean" has going for it are those oddly funny drawings that appear all throughout the film, as they seem to say more than the film itself. It's really two stories, and essentially the same story, of Dean, and his father, or the older version of himself, played with low-key wit by Oscar-winner Kline, and his father's story is actually the more honest of the two. There were other moments I could relate to, such as getting mad and kicking a suitcase, only to have it tumble down an incline and into a pond.
The film doesn't really discover its full honesty until the final 15 minutes though that last chat that Dean and his Dad have is admittedly the film's most touching scene and one that it could've used more of. On that note, "Dean" is a likable guy and a likable comedy with some funny individual scenes, though it doesn't quite add up to the great film it aspires to be.