Some of the recent low-hanging fruit in comedy films stems from the hyperbole in ill-advised social media. I'm sad to say Ingrid Goes West, the new film starring Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, isn't much better than any number of sitcoms on TV, especially those on the higher cable channels--let's say in the 400-500 range. It's not as if Plaza and Olsen aren't trying their hearts out, but the material is flimsy and gimmicky. Ingrid Goes West is 21 minutes of entertainment in a 90-minute film (that feels significantly longer). You could watch the first five minutes of the movie, step out for a drink and a bite to eat, get your car washed and go on a job interview. If you returned in time for the all-too-foreseeable finish, you wouldn't have missed much.
Ingrid (Plaza) is a social media addict who goes off the rails when she isn't invited to the wedding of someone she follows—stalks—on Facebook. Ingrid crashes the wedding and gifts the bride with a big dose of pepper spray. The scene is hilarious, but it's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment. At that point, director/co-screenwriter Matt Spicer had a choice: create a pitch-black treatise of a full-on hunter (think 1992 hit thriller Single White Female) or a messy tale of fanaticism (think campy 1981 drama The Fan). Unfortunately, Spicer leaned toward the latter.
"I just know things will be different now," Ingrid tells therapists after her act of wedding terrorism lands her in a psychiatric hospital. But as quick as her thumb can slide across her smartphone, Ingrid finds a new target of her affection: Taylor (Olsen), a social media celebrity whose ability to get free stuff via endorsements rivals the Kardashians'. Ingrid goes, well, West to find Taylor, become BFFs and live happily ever after. A kidnapped dog and a punched face later, things end up where you expect them to.
I love Plaza, and she takes a backseat to no one for her seven seasons on NBC comedy Parks and Recreation. I'm fond of her performances in the 2012 movie Safety Not Guaranteed and current FX series, Legion. I'm also concerned about her possible over-exposure. I count around 20 appearances in feature films in the last five years, bringing her perilously close to visiting James Franco-land. The addition of Ingrid Goes West to Plaza's resume, will probably become an afterthought. For me, it already has.