VOD film review: Toss It
Matthew Turner | On 15, Jul 2020
Director: Michele Remsen
Cast: Michele Remsen, Phil Burke, Blair Ross, Allison Frasca, Jenny Zerke, Stephen Bogardus, Eric Goss, Malachy McCourt
Watch Toss It online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
Filmed over a period of 12 days, this micro-budget comedy was obviously a labour of love for writer-director-star Michele Remsen and the fact that the film exists is an achievement in itself. Unfortunately, it’s also borderline unwatchable, thanks to a tedious script, irritating characters and a general lack of direction.
The plot begins with cynical singletons Finn (Phil Burke) and Emily (Remsen) flirting with each other at a wedding. It’s established that they’ve liked each other for years, but have never hooked up, perhaps because they’re too wary of one another’s flaws. Sure enough, when Emily declines to sleep with Finn, he immediately hooks up with Marie (Jenny Zerke), who, it turns out, is only sleeping with the groom’s brother to get back at the bride. And when Emily catches Marie in Finn’s bed the next morning, it doesn’t exactly help their relationship prospects.
On paper, that’s a decent start for a relationship comedy – perpetual screw-up must reform to win over his perfect match – but Remsen has no interest in going there. Instead, the script quickly pinballs through two huge plot developments – and the rest of the film is effectively spent moping, as the various characters in Finn’s family discuss life, love and general dysfunction.
The film’s biggest problem is the total lack of chemistry between Burke and Remsen, meaning the audience just doesn’t care whether they get together or not – and even that potential will-they-won’t-they element is torpedoed early on. In fact the entire situation fails to convince.
On top of that, the characters are largely unlikeable (particularly Finn and the less said about Malachy McCourt’s creepy Uncle Claude the better) and the performances are extremely one-note, especially Allison Frasca as Finn’s perpetually angry sister-in-law Natalie, and Blair Ross as Finn’s wisdom-dispensing mother, Adele. Worse, Remsen’s dialogue-heavy script ensures that they all speak in the same register, using the same cynical wisecracks and wordplay, to the point where if you shut your eyes, it would be hard to tell one character from the next.
The script is full of supposedly meaningful observations that amount to nothing. The film’s eventual conclusion seems like little reward after nearly two hours of soul-searching dialogue. As for the film’s title, it makes no sense whatsoever. There’s an obviously-shoe-horned-in, possibly Grease-inspired fantasy sequence devoted to the toss of a coin, but otherwise the film seems to be using the metaphor to mean “take a leap of faith”, which doesn’t quite work.
It’s fair to say that Remsen’s strengths lie in acting (Emily is the only likeable character and that’s largely due to her performance); the film is at least half an hour too long and several sequences (such as watching a random character walk round a garden) could easily have been cut.
Although it’s possible to see the film’s good intentions, the overall effect is like being trapped in a room while other people are having a conversation that you can’t leave.
Toss It is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.