Director: Jonathan Glatzer | 104 minutes | drama | Actors: Molly Price, Steve Coogan, Hilary Duff, Olivia Thirlby, Molly Shannon, Josh Peck, Max Hoffman, Sarah Lind, Laura Konechny, Ingrid Nilson, Andrea Brooks, Andrew Wheeler, Gabrielle Rose, Colleen Rennison, Aubrey Mozino, Aaron Brooks, Barry Greene, David Sochet, Katie Messina, Alana Husband, Kendra Sue Waldman
Jack Lemmon in ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’, Jim Carrey in ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, Will Ferrell in ‘Stranger Than Fiction’, Robin Williams in ‘One Hour Photo’ and Bill Murray in ‘Lost in Translation’: just another list of comedians who dared to play a dramatic role with great success. When a comedian tries a serious role, it often works out well and produces great films. What does this listing have to do with “What Goes Up”? Everything! Comic genius Steve Coogan takes on the gloomy tour in this indie flick. Fun? In What Goes Up he reappears: the bitter cynic who grumbles some words from a worn typewriter. Yep, the journalist’s cliché image is still unbreakable. While Russell Crowe recently played a ticking, fossilized rendition of the reporter in “State Of Play”, now Coogan is letting go of the worn out reporter. It does not matter, as long as the character can be used. Countless films rely on cliché images and yet know how to move.
Anyway, Coogan plays letters slave Campbell Babbitt, a grumpy loner who is so troublesome that he is sent to a sleeping town, where he is allowed to report on a village festival. While Babbitt tries to come to terms with his girlfriend’s suicide, he discovers that a former classmate has taken his own life. In between, the reporter discovers a class of rudderless children who no longer feel like school after the death of their teacher. Can he save them? If you are not exhausted after reading the synopsis of “What Goes Up”, then you are clearly a fan of heavy food. Sometimes it turns out well, “Precious” was also a bursting potpourri of misery at the seams, but in Jonathan Glatzer’s film that enumeration of tragedies is not impressive, but rather tiring, prestigious and artificial. The reason for this lies in the flat acting performances. Coogan is not unkind, but does not know how to turn the bitter, cynical reporter into a notable anti-hero. The flat protagonist does not know how to pull this mediocre film up. This is mainly due to its annoying opponents. Hilary Duff, prominently featured on the DVD cover, is terribly irritating as well as annoying adolescent. She is hysterical, manic and loud at the same time. So headache-inducing acting. The other cast members do not know what kind of film they ended up in: a tragicomedy or a Kabouter Plop film? The performances vary from curvy to acceptable. Words like swipe, over the top and subdued tumble over each other and constantly beg for your attention.
You can say a lot about it, but “What Goes Up” is a failed movie. The worst thing about this case is that, thanks to the role of Duff, ignorant teenage girls will no doubt want to spend their pocket money on this film. Unfortunately for them, their heroine is failing. The actress wants to be taken seriously, but this slip is not going to help her. The biggest disappointment, however, is the presence of Coogan. This man has treated the world to the brilliant and insufferable Allan Partridge. A great character that is completely over the top, but nevertheless aroused curled toes and pity. Unfortunately, that last word applies to “What Goes Up”: pitifully pretentious and bad.