“Digging For Fire” leaves viewers with a lot to search for.
The latest Joe Swanberg indie gem starring Jake Johnson (which he co-wrote with Swanberg) opens in select theaters and VOD this weekend. With anticipation after a solid buzz at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, a new Swanberg movie is a mini-event for the niche indie film industry. The under-appreciated Rosemarie Dewitt plays his wife and emerging actress Brie Larson is a close friend that gets a little too close (think Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde in “Drinking Buddies”).
“Digging for Fire” has quite the cast of ensemble actors who make glorified cameos including Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell, Orlando Bloom, Ron Livingston, Sam Elliot, and Jenny Slate among many others. One would wish they were in it a few extra scenes and interacted with each other. It felt like a missed opportunity, but I was glad at least everyone was there.
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 3
The plot of “Digging for Fire” is a more absurd version of “mumbercore” that I am used to watching. Tim (Jake Johnson) randomly finds a bone and an old gun in the yard of the house they are staying in. His wife Lee (Dewitt) wants him to do more serious things around the house. Hilarity ensues. Jake is unhappy and wants adventure and meaning in his life. It is a standard, low key style with realistic dialogue improvised from the actors. By the way, it was great to see Jenny Slate and the goofball from “VEEP” as a couple (make a movie about them Joe Swanberg). Interactions with other characters become awkward as Jake becomes obsessed with other discoveries. The plot is thin but saved with better than expected acting especially from the two leads.
Entertainment Value – 3
Searching for the entertainment value in “Digging for Fire” was a challenging experience. There wasn’t a lot happening and I wanted something to happen. “Digging for Fire” wasn’t on the same level as his recent movies like “Drinking Buddies” or even “Happy Christmas.” Divisive for audiences yet imbalanced, it wants to be serious and goofy succeeding some of the time. Regardless of this conflict, I dug the vibe of this movie. It is like a summer night that doesn’t go anywhere. Ending redeems the slowness and aimless wandering of the second and third acts. They go on this exploration that you’d expect drunk guys on a weekend summer night to do. Bravo for that realism.
Re-Watchability – 2
I doubt “Digging For Fire” will be an ideal move for repeat viewing. This is the weakest element of this movie. Audiences will probably not be interested in watching this again. The plot nor even the odd humor gives audiences reasons or an urge to watch this one more than once. For the sake of this review, I kept thinking how I wouldn’t watch this movie again, but you never know with Swanberg. I don’t have the intention to watch this one again actually.
“Digging For Fire.” As the latest installment of the Joe Swanberg mumblecore movie, it should have been better and even funnier but it could have been a lot worse.