In a recent interview on “The Daily Show” Jeff Garlin said his long-term plan was to one day have enough money to make his own independent movies. He has recently been able to achieve his dream, and “Dealin’ with Idiots” is the second film he has directed. Like most independent movies it is small in scale, but it is also small in laughter. Garlin directs with a steady hand, but you wish there were more jokes.
Based on Garlin’s own experiences with his son’s baseball team in Los Angeles, the film mostly deals with how crazy some parents can get when it comes to their children’s sports. Garlin also stars as Max Morris, a comedian famous enough to be recognized by a woman outside his son’s baseball park, but busy enough to blow her off when she asks him to talk to her friend on the phone. While sitting in the bleachers during a game, Max begins to notice the team coaches and parents can be pretty quirky. Thinking it could make for a decent movie idea, he decides to interview them and see what comes out of it.
To Morris’ credit, some of these people are pretty out there. One of the parents, a white middle-aged lesbian, says if this does turn into a movie she wants to be played by Halle Berry. Coach Jimbo (Bob Odenkirk) is very enthusiastic about the movie idea and invites Max to interview him at his copy store, where he unloads a story about a ridiculous family feud. Coach Ted (J.B Smoove) on the other hand lives in what he calls a “compound” that includes a giant pool, a barbecue, and two bikini babes with whom he is writing his biography. Then there is Marty (Fred Willard), who once dreamed of making it big in baseball but now pins his hopes on his son and hits him with the ball so can get used to it.
And that’s about it. Morris talks to these people, passes judgement on them when talking to his wife (Nia Vardalos), and then decides to forget the whole movie idea so he can focus on having fun with his son. It seems pretty hypocritical of Morris to judge these people, since he can be a bit quirky himself. In his alone time he goes into his own headspace and talks to his childhood coach (Timothy Oliphant) who agrees that parents today are way too intense when it comes to winning.
There is a good movie to be made about parents obsessed with their children winning a sport, but this one doesn’t say much. Morris seems truly amazed at how weird these people are when he is talking to them, but watching them on screen I was not that intrigued or entertained. If Morris the character played by Garlin decided to forget the whole movie idea, I don’t understand why Garlin in real life thought to go ahead with what little he had and make the movie anyway.
(“Dealin’ with idiots” is out on DVD and is streaming on Netflix.)