Better Living Through Chemistry (2014) – By Kirsten Walsh

“A strait-laced pharmacist’s uneventful life spirals out of control when he starts an affair with a trophy-wife customer who takes him on a joyride involving sex, drugs and possibly murder.”

Dark comedies are hit and miss most of the time, but have been a growing trend. The morbid fantasy of following someone through a horrid time, but laughing at them the same time- it just works. Some of the time. This is one of those times. The collaborative effort of directors Geoff Moore and David Posamentier really paid off in the Sam Rockwell vehicle, which also features Michelle Monaghan, Olivia Wilde, and Ray Liotta.

The film leaves the audience wanting to scream at Rockwell from the moment it starts, with him living a pitiful life (narrated by elusive Jane Fonda- who is still absolutely beautiful in her cameo), being overrun by his cycling addict wife, ignored by his troubled son, and stomped on by his employer/ father-in-law. Rockwell is known for his somewhat tragic and awkward roles, and fits into it quite well. His rule-abiding character stumbles into a dream scenario with Olivia Wilde- a home delivery to a slightly drunk, horny, desperate housewife, and everything changes- go figure. Only in the movies. However, it just so happens that she is married to Ray Liotta.

The film has essences of “Pleasantville” with the town’s superb holier-than-thou air, but also “Novocaine”- the awesome Steve Martin film that really bit into the dark comedy scene. This film is not forgettable- as most comedies are these days- but it also isn’t one that will stand forever as an award winning film. It exists as a feel good film- it is one of those that leaves the audience feeling good, even if Rockwell was not the most moral of gentlemen. It had moments of sheer joy, tragedy, and awkwardness, and even some that pulled the audience into rooting for Rockwell (seeing him in a one piece spandex suit was extremely fun).

Would I watch it again? Probably, but not as the total attention grabber. It is pretty visually, but is not necessarily one that will be in my collection.

The film is currently on Netflix. Check it out if you want a feel good break from reality.