'The Drop' review: Awkward dark comedy holds its own
Courtesy of Hulu
A black comedy that asks its audiences to subtextually put themselves in the shoes of its main characters, “The Drop” presents an authentic, cringe-inducing conflict. Imagine this: you’re headed to Mexico for your best friend's wedding. It’s supposed to be relaxing, nurturing, and an opportunity to recharge from the doldrums of daily life, and while holding the baby of the soon-to-be newlyweds, you drop them on their head. Yikes.
It’s a sticky situation nobody ever wants to find themselves in because of its eerie relatability. We’ve all been at that weird family gathering when your tipsy Aunt hands over a toddler and you’re suddenly standing on eggshells. For Mani and Lex (Jermaien Fowler and Anna Konkle), the focal couple for “The Drop,” having a child is of top priority (the movie hilariously opens with the two trying to conceive) but the parental objective becomes fuzzy after Lex becomes public enemy no 1 among her friend group after accidentally letting an adorable child slip from her hands.
That’s the moral conundrum at the heart of Sarah Adina Smith’s “The Drop,” as the screenplay, co-written by Smith and Joshua Leonard, tries asking what makes a good parent. Even if the child ends up being okay (which it does), the constant fear of not being protective enough is something that’s hard to ignore. It doesn’t help that Mani and Lex’s unlikable friend group don’t offer much comfort, eager to hop on the hate train if it means not having to confront their own barrage of problems.
The supporting squad consists of solid character performers like Utkarsh Ambudka, Jillian Bell, Elisha Henig, Jennifer Lafleur, and Leonard, who cheekily inhabit various personality types. From insecure drunk wine mom, unhappily married couple to the horny teenager, “The Drop” manages to hold its own because the humor (and the approach) isn’t eccentric or on the nose. It’s not a laugh out loud fest either and the sitcom dynamics occasionally yield sour results, but the performances are compelling and the script is sharp enough to keep things from going completely stoic. In fact, the script does an excellent job at fleshing out each character quirk and relationship quibble without the need for slapstick. A recurring theme throughout the movie becomes whether or not any of these characters are capable of dropping a baby or if they were dropped on their head as a child. It won’t take a rocket scientist to ascertain the truth.
Still, “The Drop,” loses momentum heading into the final stretch when Mani and Lexi, along with most of the brigade, confront their own crossroads, and a drunken sea excursion brings out the worst of everyone. Fowler and Konkle do much of the heavy lifting, forced to play it straight while everyone around them acts like buffoons. For the most part, it works on their strengths and the ambitions of this dark comedy don’t go unnoticed and the dialogue and humor end up complimenting themselves nicely.
THE DROP streams on Hulu Friday, January 13th.