LA Film Fest 2017: Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town, by David Bax
Introducing itself with a song by Corin Tucker’s pre-Sleater-Kinney band, Heavens to Betsy, Christian Papierniak’s Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town kicks off with energetic, punk rock promise. Soon, though, what Papierniak seems to be positioning as a quintessential Los Angeles movie devolves into a series of unexamined stereotypes about the city as a background to a lazy wisp of a plot.
Izzy (Mackenzie Davis) was, up until a few years prior to these events, in a promising New York band with her sister (Carrie Coon). After they broke up, Izzy became a mess and eventually arrived where we find her, waking up completely broke somewhere in Venice, her wine- and blood-stained caterer’s uniform the last vestige of the job she just lost. Also, and this is important, her car hasn’t worked for weeks. When she sees on Instagram that her ex-boyfriend is engaged and is, in fact, hosting an engagement party later that day, the final straw breaks and she decides that has to crash the event to win back this man whom she fervently believes is her destiny.
How in the world, though, is she going to get from Venice to Echo Park without a car?! Never mind that this is shockingly similar to the plot of 2014’s Walk of Shame. What really irks is how much it depends on one of the most odious, elitist stereotypes about Los Angeles. When a friend suggests she take the bus, Izzy rages, “Name me one person that ever takes the fucking bus!” The prospect of the bus is never mentioned again. Please, I implore you to understand that people in Los Angeles take the bus and the train all the time. Public transit is consistently crowded, so much so that multiple construction projects to extend it are currently underway. It’s only the most comfortable and privileged who insist on upholding the myth that everyone here spends all day in their cars. Izzy becomes a part of this ugly tradition so that it can construct a half-assed, episodic narrative around it.
At least the folks Izzy encounters on her journey are played by a variety of welcome comedic actors, even if it’s completely inexplicable how they all ended up in such a bad movie. In addition to Davis and Coon, we meet characters played by Lakeith Stanfield, Rob Huebel, Kyle Kinane and the great Annie Potts. The standouts, though, are Alia Shawkat, who has developed a reputation as someone who can elevate any material, and Haley Joel Osment, whose somewhat recent reinvention as a goofball comic actor is proving a complete success.
It’s a shame, then, that all of the above find themselves mired in this incoherent mess. Papierniak can’t make sense of his own story, either as a writer or a director. We can’t figure out how long Izzy has lived in the city and to what extent her seeming unfamiliarity with it makes sense; she seems to know a ton of people here despite not know where the Miracle Mile is or how to pronounce Los Feliz. Meanwhile, clunker lines like “So you don’t believe in fate?” come out of nowhere and major moments like Izzy apparently getting stabbed are framed and edited in such a way that it’s completely unclear what just happened. Luckily, I suppose, it’s completely forgotten about in a few minutes. I wish I could say the same for Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town as a whole.
I think her line about the bus could work great if it turned out many of the guests at her destination got there via bus and express puzzlement that she refused to do so. Then it’s a character behaving oddly rather than a generalization.
I’m disappointed a movie with Carrie Coon is bad because she’s a great actress who hasn’t done as much on-camera.