Lovestruck Week: Jim and Helen Forever
Updated: Apr 14, 2022
David's on a time crunch to make a decision about marriage, so he seeks the guidance from his brother Aaron and best friend Pete, who end up leading him on a disastrous search for a suitable engagement ring.
Separating comedy from romantic drama is something of a tall order these days. In addition, stories about men needing to find the guts to make an honest woman out of long term girlfriends are not exactly uncommon, so if a filmmaker chooses to tread this well worn ground, they would be well advised to do so with great care and skill. This is a mindset that writers Jed Rapp Goldstein and Sam Ritzenberg, along with director Jesse Zwick have clearly applied to this slickly made, charming and altogether sobering romantic comedy. As David (Lucas Neff) realises that life is offering his girlfriend Tessa (Caitlin Fitzgerald) every reason to make him a part of her past, he is talked into proposing to her to keep her from leaving.
While asking someone to get married for the sole purpose of hanging onto them, perhaps at the expense of some great life opportunities is selfish and morally dubious to say the least, it is actually a great flaw for David’s character and interesting place from which to start his journey. From the outset, we are introduced to a man who does not fully appreciate what he has, and is driven more by the fear of losing a great girlfriend than the desire to give her more than the rest of the world can offer her. He sees marriage (or engagement) as a potential quick fix rather than the ultimate goal that he should be working towards, which would be representative of him wanting to become a better person, worthy of the woman who wants to be with him.
David’s road to figuring this out is what makes Jim and Helen Forever such a great story. The story is peppered with some great characters, from best friend Pete (Arrow’s Echo Kellum) who formulates the ill-conceived proposal plan and younger brother Aaron (Josh Brener) who leapfrogs David by proposing to his “sexually chill” girlfriend who is about to be deported, by using their grandmother’s ring, that David had his eye on. These two characters, as well as a fantastic reality check from Rhonda, a jewelry store sales assistant played by Sabrina Ravelle, anchor the comedy in the portion of the film where David is pursuing the wrong plan for the wrong reason.
The transition from the bombastic witticisms of the dialogue into the film’s final third, where David has to truly examine his motives is done with great care and turns the story inward without sacrificing the intelligent comedy that has underpinned the plot up to this point. The final answer comes in the form of pawnshop owner Jim (Jeff Perry joining the film from TV’s Scandal) whose voice of reason in the film’s moment of quiet provides a messy history in love to be learned from in a way that many of us would be able to identify with. It is here that the dialogue, as well as the performances from Neff and Perry, truly shine. The overt comedy is pared back to the bare minimum to make way for some very simple yet crucial truths, however this is not done in a heavy handed or judgmental way. Instead it is left up to David to decide if he is going to realise the real reason that he should be making the choices that he makes.
Ultimately, Jesse Zwick keeps the tone light without drifting completely into whimsy, which allows Goldstein and Ritzenberg’s script to lay valid life lessons in amongst the comedy. Even after the conclusion of David’s dramatic journey they still find a way to shoehorn one last big laugh into the film without it seeming superfluous or forced. This is a great 16-minute journey that brings home the importance of appreciating the good things in your life and encourages you to aspire to be worthy of them.
Studio: My Godbrother Productions | Year: 2015 | Genre: Romance/Comedy | Duration: 16 mins | Suitability: Mature - Strong language and sexual references
Lucas Neff, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Echo Kellum, Josh Brener
Director: Jesse Zwick | Producers: Jed Rapp Goldstein, Petr Jankular, Benjamin Lindemuth-McRobie, Sam Ritzenberg | Writers: Jed Rapp Goldstein, Sam Ritzenberg