MRR Review: "Authors Anonymous"

Photo Credit: Screen Media Films

Rating: PG-13
Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Directed by: Ellie Kanner
Genre: Comedy

Detailing the misadventures of a group of would-be writers, "Authors Anonymous" is a charming indie comedy recorded in mockumentary style. The film follows a number of quirky characters whose dreams are to hook an agent and get their work published. When one of the group succeeds, however, their camaraderie is greatly tested. "Authors Anonymous" often fails to deliver the side-aching laughs that audiences expect, but it is still a fun watch for its heartfelt gags and colorful characters.

In the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, a group of dysfunctional writers have formed an accepting support group where members can share their dreams of becoming published authors and critique each other's work. The group is filled with unique writers who vary greatly in personality and preferred literary genre. Alan Mooney (Dylan Walsh) is constantly coming up with story ideas and making note of them with a voice recorder, and his wife Colette (Teri Polo) channels her energy into erotic stories with a Russian theme. William Bruce (Jonathan Bennett) is a lazy writer who has trouble coming up with original ideas, and he idolizes Charles Bukowski. The intellectual Henry Obert (Chris Klein) is an aspiring author who works as a pizza delivery boy and carpet cleaner in his spare time.

This group of misfits welcomes newcomer Hannah Rinaldi (Kayley Cuoco) a ditzy, seemingly untalented writer who is unaware of Jane Austen's literary fame. William begins to fall for Hannah, but when she miraculously hooks an agent and scores a six-figure movie deal, the entire group is clearly envious. Hannah's ensuing fame brings tension, rivalries and bitter jealousy to the mix, and members of the group become hostile. Only time will tell if the situation will tear them apart for good or bring them together in an unexpected way.

"Authors Anonymous" uses a few techniques in its delivery that viewers either love or hate. The characters are completely pompous, ignorant and, for the most part, utterly unlikable. Although the acting is subtle, the characters themselves often seem over-the-top and unrealistic. However, as the movie continues, it is clear that these individuals are meant to be ironic caricatures, and the humor stems from this. Audience members who realize the intent behind the characters are more likely to enjoy this film than those looking for a more realistic comedy.

Additionally, the mockumentary-style format of the movie does not suit everyone's tastes. The sweeping cameras, changing angles and shaky shots are a bit dizzying, but they work for the intended style of the film. Viewers must also keep in mind that this is a low-budget indie film, so they will not experience the smooth cameras and superior quality seen in big-budget Hollywood films.

Director Ellie Kanner works her magic to create a fun comedy that lingers in viewers' minds long after the credits roll. The filmmakers also weave in a bit of romance, creating some charming moments that make this a good choice for a date flick. Although there are some awkward moments between laughs, the film is still thoroughly entertaining for viewers who keep an open mind and a good sense of humor.

The characters have depth and color, and they are brought to life by some talented actors. Kaley Cuoco, best known for her role on "The Big Bang Theory," is the perfect fit for the surprisingly successful Hannah. The late comedy actor Dennis Farina also makes an appearance in the film, although it is sadly one of his last. Jonathan Bennett, who plays the role of Bruce with the perfect amount of awkward allurement, is no stranger to comedy as he has also appeared in "Mean Girls," "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" and many other titles.

This film has something for everyone; however, it is especially appealing to writers, who are sure to laugh at every turn as the characters illustrate the woes of being an aspiring author in a comedic fashion. Some of the best lines of the film can only be truly appreciated by aspiring writers, but much of the comedy appeals to viewers of all backgrounds.

"Authors Anonymous" is not a mainstream comedy film, so it may not sit well with every viewer. However, those who are able to appreciate the movie's subtle nuances and cleverly crafted characters are sure to have fun. The plot is somewhat dull, but the actors carry it through nicely with their respective characters. This film may not be one of the year's best, but those looking for a comedy that drifts off the beaten path may find "Authors Anonymous" a pleasant surprise.