Underdog stories take a variety of forms. A popular premise finds someone entrenched in the working world. They decide to go back to the more carefree days of their youth. These tend to be simple stories that usually end up making the audience feel good. The main hook is they are very relatable. Who has not looked at their current role in life and dreamed of when they cared less about money and responsibilities?
The Incoherents is a comedy about a group of middle aged men who reform their titular band. Bruce (Jeff Auer who is also the movie’s screenwriter) quit the band right as they were gaining popularity. Now a forty something with two kids he is ready to get back in the music scene. But can The Incoherents make a splash in today’s world?
Auer’s dialogue is a highlight of The Incoherents. The script weaves between comedy and drama seamlessly. One liners are followed by serious conversation. It is never easy to traverse comedy and drama, but Auer’s movie does it. This adds to the great chemistry between everyone in the movie. The Incoherents focuses on Bruce’s relationship with two groups: his family and his band.
The connection between Bruce and his wife Liz is well developed. They have a number of great interactions throughout the movie. These moments come off as very natural. Their relationship stands out despite the predictability of the plot. It is odd how little the backstory of Liz and the children factor into the story. The irony is Liz yearns to forge her own identity but the script just makes her a part of Bruce’s story. Their kids do not even get that much.
Bruce’s relationship with his band is very similar. Everyone’s interactions are very smooth. They have the kind of banter you would expect from longtime friends. A scene in a bar following their first successful gig after reforming is a great example. Ultimately, they are just a small part of Bruce’s journey. Occasionally, The Incoherents will delve into the tension between Bruce and lead guitarist Jimmy. This never goes too deep below the surface, however. Meanwhile, the Hamilton brothers who make up the rhythm section of the band are little more than background characters.
For a movie that is centered around music, it is surprising the moments involving the band performing may be the hardest to watch. The audio seems off making it nearly impossible to hear anything being said. There are also strange cuts and edits that are jarring. This may be done on purpose, but if so they end up breaking up the film’s flow. It is especially damaging since the music is perfect for the time period.
When The Incoherents sticks with its characters and story is when it is at its best. There is an innocence that permeates the entire film. It expertly captures the feeling that is 1990s music. The songs are catchy and forgettable. Whether a person like the music or not is subjective; either way, the movie does a great job of getting the feel for that era.
Through every obstacle and argument, the story never loses its sense of fun. It is obvious what is going to happen once the story kicks into gear, This never negatively impacts The Incoherents, however. In a way, it adds to the film’s enjoyment. The film never talks down to its characters or audience but is never guilty of taking itself too seriously either. It simply wants to entertain.
Melding comedy and drama is never an easy thing to do. Audiences watch movies to escape reality and real life is filled with laughter and tears. The Incoherents does a great job of using the two in a flawed but fun movie. Those who grew up during the 1990s will enjoy the band’s music. Anyone watching who is not familiar with the songs of that time will stick around for the very enjoyable story.