Don’t Tell Larry (2023) Film Review
Greg Porper and John Schimke‘s Don’t Tell Larry is a pretty funny workplace comedy that’ll make your day. You only have to give it some time to find its pace, and then it turns into a solid depiction of great ideas compiled into a thin script that doesn’t make much sense, but ultimately delivers its relevant blow. It’s worth holding on to find the value of the film.
In the film, Susan is keen on getting promoted. She insists on this to Bruce, her retiring boss. But the thing is newcomer Larry shares a connection with Bruce, and represents a threat to Susan’s plans. She lies to Larry about an office party thrown for the boss, but then tragedy strikes, and when the investigation starts, Susan can’t shake off the suspicions about her involvement.
Susan decides to involve her wacky co-worker Patrick in a plan to find out more about the truth-obsessed Larry, whose fascination with Bruce and his cat, draws suspicious from the duo who won’t stop until truth finds the light, no matter the costs.
Don’t Tell Larry takes place inside the confines of indie comedy, with unknown actors trying to make the best of a script that stays on the same line and tone of comedy throughout the entire film. It feels completely safe from start to finish, and never submits its characters to tropes that haven’t been tried before. The comedy style used for telling the story is situational, and almost follows a structure of vignettes. Susan and Patrick get high and “go Watergate” on the office, Susan and Patrick must go through drug testing after eating some edibles and of course try to find urine elsewhere, Susan gets locked in the backseat of Larry’s car and Patrick tries to help her. This causes the film to perform safely in traditional comedy territory alongside some unnecessary attempts at being funny. This isn’t the place to experiment.
As the film gets closer to its conclusion, it welcomes a darker element to the plot (in fact at some point it borrows a piece of Danny Elfman’s score for a Tim Burton film which helps this eerie shift in the film), and Susan actually faces danger and Larry’s strange attitude towards adversity. It loses some steam in its third act with the more emotional aspect of the story, but this is just a quick misstep towards the ending where Larry shows his true self, and the film makes the necessary genre-bending jump. I won’t spoil further because the twist definitely works, but just know that it gets… violent.
Patty Guggenheim shines as the ambitious Susan, and takes the film and makes it her own show. Sure, Kenneth Mosley also steals every scene he’s in. But this is Guggenheim’s opportunity to prove she may be more than just a secondary actor. Her comedy skills are prominent, and she shows it in the film. Kiel Kennedy gives life to Larry, and portrays a bizarrely funny but sentimental dude that you will never fully “solve”. Regardless, his performance is key to understanding Don’t Tell Larry‘s strange mix between mystery and comedy.
In the end, Don’t Tell Larry has its moments of genius comedy, and an appropriate wink to the horror genre that’s perfectly managed by two directors who injected all their passion and made their dream project a reality that’s worth checking out, and shines through the indie film spectrum.