The Collin-Denton Spotlighter is taking a look at some of the top movies to hit popular streaming services in recent days. We’ll be reviewing those movies not only by traditional standards, but by how well they hold up as quality streaming options for a comfy night in with a bowl of microwave popcorn.
Hulu recently dropped, well, The Drop on January 13. Read on to see if the dark comedy is worth picking up for a quick hour and 32 minutes of laughs.
The Spotlight Review
Typically, it’s not a compliment to call a movie awkward, but it’s hard to say if that’s true for The Drop. Starring Anna Konkle and Jermaine Fowler as married couple Lex and Mani, the movie revels in the uncomfortable. For a film with such a simple setup, Lex drops her friends’ baby daughter en route to those same friends’ tropical wedding, it almost seems to invent new ways to make the viewer cringe.
Frankly, that seems to be what executive producers Mark and Jay Duplass along with director Sarah Adina Smith are shooting for, but that doesn’t necessarily make The Drop a success.
The simplistic setup is just window dressing to explore the dark, bizarre and comical sides of all of the assembled guests at the wedding. Following the titular event, each guest takes a wildly different tone about the incident and essentially spirals from there into a variety of eccentricities and downright bizarre behaviors.
The wedding hosts, for example, are a hippie couple who moved to a remote island only to find out how much they hate the experience. That probably doesn’t sound very weird or cringeworthy in its setup, but that’s practically the movie’s central theme. Conversations and activities with the couple inevitably turn to whether cocaine is healthy or natural, bodily smells, the stickiness of sweat or animalistic dances which a hormonally charged teenager who’s running an online incel community ends up watching.
That’s just a small taste of The Drop’s sense of humor. Some of it works too, particularly when Lex and Mani are involved. Smith has a way of pulling the camera into uncomfortably tight and awkward angles around them to drive home Mani’s increasing uncomfortableness and Lex’s emotional instability in a way that lets some jokes and awkward silences land in a way that might not otherwise happen.
The moments where they get to break out into truly strange behaviors, or the other guests make them increasingly uncomfortable, are really some of the only legitimately laugh out loud funny scenes in the film. The rest is that kind of uncomfortable humor that makes you dart your eyes side-to-side at the people next to you to see if they’re also halfway straining to smile. It probably works for some viewers, but not many.
It doesn’t help that the movie fails to really evoke any feelings other than that slightly amused awkwardness besides perhaps downright confusion or disgust. There’s not really an emotional core to the movie or even much of a story at times.
Lex and Mani are obviously meant to be the movie’s centering characters. As the only couple the film really tries to let the viewer root for, the rest either don’t get enough screentime or are irredeemably terrible people, they’re given The Drop’s only grounding story as a young, loving couple trying to get pregnant.
Their backstories are so sparse that it’s almost impossible to really connect with them though. Most of what the viewer does find out about the couple isn’t the kind of information that makes them sympathetic in any kind of way. Their actions during the movie don’t exactly make them sympathetic either.
The rest of the cast is so concerned with their own issues that there’s never much more than a moment or two of interest in Lex and Mani’s plight which tends to drive home how lacking it is from a storytelling standpoint. When most of the other characters are walking Saturday Night Live skits come to life, it’s also hard to buy in when the movie takes a left turn towards the heartwarming side near its drawn-out conclusion.
Basically, the problems with The Drop all boil down to the fact that there are movies and shows that can work with a cast of mostly morally corrupt characters, but those are few and far between. No one is going to confuse this for a lost Seinfeld script even if the title sounds appropriate.
In the end, The Drop fumbles its way past too many of those essential storytelling beats to make it a comedy hit, no matter how cringe-inducing it can be.
Spotlight Score: 5/10
Skip or Stream
For most comedy fans, The Drop is going to be an easy skip. Its laughs are too few and far between for the average viewer to make it worth enduring such a heaping helping of oddness.
At the same time, in an appropriately strange way, its easy to see how this movie might obtain cult status with some. It’s got that sort of funky feeling to it that works well enough that fans of this style of humor may embrace more wholeheartedly. It also seems to accomplish its primary comedic mission to make you cringe more often than not, which is typically a good sign for those kinds of cult classics.
I suppose it’s appropriate then that The Drop wound up on Hulu. It definitely doesn’t have a broad enough appeal for a theatrical release, and you’ll know quickly if it’s the kind of movie for you if you decide to give it a shot.
It’s somewhat rare that a movie feels like it does what its primarily set out to do quite as well as The Drop, but still ends up being a largely unenjoyable viewing experience. There’s some value in the oddity here, especially when watching with others, but don’t rush to pick up Hulu only to watch The Drop.