Fits and Starts is an indie version of those movies where a bad night keeps escalating, like After Hours or Adventures in Babysitting. Only since it’s about a bunch of pretentious artists, the only escalating danger is smugness.
David Warwick (Wyatt Cenac) is a struggling author who’s married to published author Jennifer Lee (Greta Lee). When they get separated en route to a party, Warwick has to attend the party alone and talk to other authors and performers himself.
This a lovingly endearing spoof of pretentious art snobs. All the different characters are funny and relentless. The white musician’s take on slavery is absurdly committed. One portrait artist draws caricatures adding an absurdly sexual element. One simply makes excuses for passing on Warwick’s book which is familiar and accurate. Another sings opera with a really great voice, but the translations bely the beauty. A free spirit (Maria Dizzia) dares him to be wildly unstable like her.
Writer/director Laura Terruso makes good use of her resources and writes to them. It’s one of those indie movies with natural light, shot on digital and mostly in a single location. But rather than ramble or mope, she fills it with jokes and meaningful character moments.
Warwick’s avoids opportunities and he’s easily distracted. Jennifer encourages him but won’t commit to reading his manuscript which is an issue. He read hers. But along the way they also encounter a ride sharing snafu which is sort of the modern redux of the joke about rental cars not holding your reservation. The timing and the background gags work.
If Fits and Starts have been bad, I could’ve called it Sh*ts and Farts. Good news/bad news. The movie is good but now I’ll never get to use they headline, unless someone makes a movie called Ships and Forts.