Male midlife crisis presents as pathological self-loathing in “Meet Bill,” an imperative to which the only sane response is: No thanks.
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Harnessing mostly fine actors to a wholly asinine script, the directors, Melisa Wallack and Bernie Goldmann, have created a movie as spineless and dithering as its benighted namesake. A sad-sack executive for his father-in-law’s bank, Bill (Aaron Eckhart) hates his unexciting job, unflattering hair and unwieldy paunch. Discovering his brittle wife (Elizabeth Banks) in flagrante with an oily newsman (Timothy Olyphant), Bill realizes that there’s more to life than a furtive Snickers habit. Following the sugar in his bloodstream, he applies for a doughnut franchise.
Supposedly a film about finding your bliss, “Meet Bill” is really about losing your mind. Absorbing most of the punishment is the solid Mr. Eckhart — an actor more suited to corporate shark than bungling cuckold — though even Jessica Alba inspires pity for her glancing role as a lingerie saleswoman. (In one particularly pointless and creepy scene, her character enjoys a private display of women’s underwear — modeled by a teenage boy.)
Taking unseemly delight in its hero’s suffering, “Meet Bill” is little more than an extended beat-down. “You have to swallow it,” says his despicable brother-in-law at a family dinner. He’s referring to the buckshot in Bill’s duck, but he could be summarizing his entire life.
“Meet Bill” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has sex on the Internet, drugs on cue and doughnuts on the brain.
Opens on Friday in Manhattan.
Directed by Melisa Wallack and Bernie Goldmann; written by Ms. Wallack; director of photography, Peter Collister; production designer, Bruce Curtis; produced by John Penotti, Fisher Stevens and Matthew Rowland; released by First Look Studios. At the Village East, Second Ave. at 12th St. Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes.