Another in a line of indie movies that examine a dysfunctional family, The Vicious Kind can be slow at times, but it still delivers. It’s an intriguing character study that, depending on a couple of factors, can actually change your life. Yes, I’m serious. Life is a fucked up thing and it’s easy to get caught up in certain behaviors and values. Mostly because we’re fed the same bullshit from a young age. Moreover, everything is so fucking random that it’s hard not to react emotionally. And once you do that, it becomes really hard to get out of it. With this intro, I believe I put you in the right mood for an indie dramedy that can’t really decide what it is.
It’s always a good idea to look at things from different perspectives and this is exactly what The Vicious Kind does. This is a story about the Sinclaire family that consists of a father (masterfully played by J.K. Simmons) and two estranged brothers with very different personalities. Adam Scott is the star of the show as Caleb, an ordinary guy spiraling hard downwards. This is actually a movie about Caleb and his relationships and life issues, that happens to involve his family. In other words, he’s like this focal lens shedding light on issues we all face. Most of all love and romance as he’s trying to figure out his feelings.
Meet Caleb Sinclaire, a chain-smoking, nervous, and generally dark guy. Recently dumped by his girlfriend he’s currently in a women-hating mood. And on top of all that he needs to pick up his brother Peter who just started seeing someone. He will try to warn his brother that Emma will cheat and destroy him, like all the women in his life did to him. At the same time, he’s still trying to get over his ex-girlfriend.
The atmosphere in The Vicious Kind feels personal and very low-key. It makes the movie sneak up on you and before you know it you’re talking to the screen. Another thing that makes it stand out in the sea of similar movies is the familiarity of the story. I think we all know someone who feels like Caleb or us, ourselves are currently him. I know I came close a couple of times. Set in a small town and following an ordinary family, it tells a story of Average Joe and his struggles. I think we can all empathize with that. Finally, just so you don’t think it’s all depression and brooding, there’s a subtle humorous vibe underneath the main story. It makes the story much more digestible although some of the jokes fall flat. If you’re looking for similar movies check out Dan in Real Life with Steve Carell.
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Writer: Lee Toland Krieger
Cast: Adam Scott, Brittany Snow, Alex Frost, J.K. Simmons, Vittorio Brahm, Bill Buell
Fun Fact: The screenplay was originally set in a small town in Rhode Island, but the film was shot in Norfolk, CT, which also became the character’s hometown.