Charlie is an unmotivated man in his mid-20s still living at home with his mother and stepfather who falls for a young woman who has a serious boyfriend.
The good news about new Indie film “Almost Friends” is it was not a complete waste of time. The hope was the characters would learn from their mistakes and grow into themselves. The bad news is too many things failed to add up to a hit show. The film does have some big names: Freddie Highmore (“The Good Doctor”), Marg Helgenberger (“CSI”), Haley Joel Osment (“The Sixth Sense”), Christopher Meloni (“Law & Order: SVU”), and Odeya Rush (“The Giver”), which helped to move the bumpy plot along.
Highmore seems almost autistic in his role as Charlie when in actuality, he lacks confidence and the ability to interact socially with girls. Best friend Ben (Osment) forces Charlie to interact with local barista Amber (Odeya) who he had not worked up the ability to talk with despite almost daily visits to the terrible coffee shop where she works. Charlie also has a job below his potential at a movie theater, which is pitiful because of his massive cooking skills and the promise of a job as a chef in New York. When Charlie finally speaks to Amber, he finds that she had been dating a runner for several years and is unavailable. Amber is not sure she wants to continue being in a relationship with Brad. She cannot talk to him about anything in their stagnant relationship, including her surprise pregnancy. She finds Charlie to be a breath of fresh air, with his bumbling and far too-honest personality. Despite her long-term relationship, Amber decides to attempt a friendship with Charlie, knowing full well his intentions are to win her over.
The ‘almost friends’ are incapable of fitting into each other’s lives seamlessly. A few embarrassing encounters do little to improve Charlie and Amber’s budding bond. Charlie hires Amber’s live-in cousin Jack in an attempt to woo her away from Brad. Yet, every chance Amber has to show real affection for Charlie, she messes up with far too blunt comments about his lack of ambition in life. Meanwhile, Charlie deals with his good-for-nothing father (Meloni), returning to his life and causing problems for Charlie’s mother (Helgenberger) and his step-father. Charlie finally tells Amber what has been holding him back from pursuing his dream as a chef. An event from his past that has forced his life to stop at a standstill.
The movie fails to end with a bang in this better-late-than-never coming-of-age story. Enjoyable characters are not enough to push this sloppy plot into action. Although, the characters are honest to a fault about themselves and those people surrounding them, which was quite refreshing. One character, Amber, ticks me off beyond repair. She never tells anyone about her pregnancy and then aborts it instead of confronting the problems in her life. At the end of the film, director and writer Jake Goldberger displays Amber finally being able to breathe as she leaves for college, with the baby gone and her almost-relationship with Charlie worked out. This disrespectful attitude towards a budding life from an already insufficient character who was quick to judge yet incapable of making any improvements in her own life, made me want to scream and throw the remote control at the television.
“Almost Friends” fails to enchant. The only redeeming qualities are Charlie and Jack. I would re-write the movie and keep those two characters while tossing the rest, as they were the only memorable people with any chemistry. The whole film feels incohesive at best, with an almost plot to match the title. The event that has held Charlie back, to making one quick call, and resecuring his life was unrealistic and unenjoyable. I would not recommend this movie.
In theaters, On Demand & Digital HD November 17th