Newlyweeds Film Review

by Luis Alegria

Director: Shaka King

Screenwriter: Shaka King

Picture a couple of college kids blazing themselves blood-eyed, sitting on a ratty couch littered with fast food wrappers, staring at the ceiling and pondering the mysteries of existence. “What if I don’t see red the way you see red?” they ask. “Isn’t it amazing that the stars we see in the sky died thousands of years ago?” “Did you know that we only use, like, 12% of our brains?” “Yes,” you say, exhausted. “Yes, I know.” Newlyweeds is a lot like that conversation, only uglier. Meaner. But just as pointless. Here’s where I’d normally tell you what the movie is about, but Newlyweeds, from first time director Shaka King, isn’t actually about anything. It’s billed as a dark comedy about two stoners in love, but the laughs – dark or otherwise – are scarce in the film. No, scarce is generous. Laughs are non-existent. Lyle and Nina live together in a crummy apartment, burning through several blunts a day as they plan their pot-fueled future. They want to go to Galapagos, so Nina gets a job. She didn’t already have a job, mind you, but now she has a reason. Gainful employment and contributing to society are evidently not reason enough, and listen, I know I sound like my grandpa, but if you’re going to be unemployed, at least be an artist. Nina just stands around all day grating cheese on waffles. Lyle works as a repo man, and an arbitrary first half that seems like it’s building toward something has him embarking on various shenanigans to repossess unpaid-for furniture. Nothing comes of it except an irritating blacksploitation dream sequence and a bleakly unfunny costume caper. Scenes unfold in this movie with no plan or cohesion, just a series of mean-spirited tableaux that have nothing to do with one another. Is Newlyweeds about the evils of smoking marijuana? Lots of bad shit happens to Nina and Lyle, in utterly random fashion: he gets arrested. She gets arrested. They break up, they get back together, they break up. They lose jobs, they fight constantly, they become various degrees of homeless. They’re both obsessed with weed, so maybe there’s an intended lesson here. I’d argue that so many bad things happen to Nina and Lyle because a) they’re idiots and b) they’re assholes. These are terrible, execrable people. They ash in fish bowls, they stand each other up constantly, they lie and cheat and steal, they see kids accidentally eating their pot brownies and don’t tell anyone because they don’t want to get in trouble and don’t care that they just poisoned children. There’s also plenty of “no homo” bullshit and plenty of “bitch” bullshit, but listen, in a movie this loathsome, we have to pick our battles. The mythology of this film comes from its freedom. Lyle lives out his life as if he thinks he has the world at his fingertips, but he does not realize the reality of his situation until he becomes sober. I guess you can say misconceptions of the mind is this films mythology. On the mainstream vs. independent spectrum, this enticing film would rank as 5, because it feels like a long made-for-television movie on Comedy Central, and I’m not saying that is a bad thing either because the film fits perfectly on the Sundance stage. From the words that the characters say, and by the way the film is shot, the film feels really cheap, but not in a negative way. Newlyweeds may be about the evils of smoking pot, but I’d argue that instead it’s about the evils of being worthless, shiftless, hateful human beings.

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