John Krasinski’s character Burt Farlander is afflicted with something I’ve decided to call the indie stupor.
We’ve all seen this before, in films as varied as Garden State, American Beauty, Broken Flowers, andElizabethtown. Our hero is a sheepish and sometimes benumbed observer of the wacky world around him. The wackier the supporting characters, the more our wounded hero looks blankly at the camera, as if to say, “Everyone is crazy except for me. In contrast, I am a deeply sensitive and intuitive human being.”
But it begs the question: Why would I care about such a passive hero? I prefer someone who is actively engaged in the world around him, not just standing around in an “I’m With Stupid” shirt.
Burt is supposed to be a stand-in for novelist and indie lit hero Dave Eggers, who cowrote the screenplay—about a rudderless 30something couple about to have their first child—with his wife, Vendela Vida. We know Eggers to be a highly intelligent, possibly even brilliant man. So why make his cinematic double such a...