We all talk to our pets, but usually our pets don’t talk back. But for Jerry, the main character in The Voices, the personalities of his two companions seem all too real. Here’s an interesting dark comedy, one that never seems to truly hit its stride, but remains entertaining nonetheless. Ryan Reynolds hasn’t always taken on the best roles, but this is clearly one of his more inspired projects and he gives a solid performance in the lead role. A bit more humor and some standout moments would have improved the film a lot, but it coasts by on an interesting concept and some competent direction from Marjane Satrapi. I’ve seen films tackle similar subject matter with better results, but this is nothing to turn your nose up at.

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) lives a quiet life, spending his time between his job at the bathtub factory and taking care of his dog, Bosco, and his cat, Mr. Whiskers. He hears his two pets talking to him and they give him advice on everything that is happening in his life. He soon develops a crush on a cute coworker named Fiona (Gemma Arterton). On the night that he gets the chance to drive her home, he accidentally ends up killing her. After consulting his pets, Jerry decides to not tell anybody about her death and gets rid of any evidence connecting him to the crime. But as he begins to grow close with another coworker named Lisa (Anna Kendrick), his entire life begins to unravel.

The biggest downfall of The Voices is that it’s just not funny enough to sustain itself as a comedy. Simply having Jerry’s pets talk to him is not a clever enough joke to last through the entire film on its own. The joke isn’t even that funny to begin with for somebody who already knows the plot of the film. They try to make his pets funny by having Mr. Whiskers talk with extreme profanity in a Scottish accent, but this joke never really connected with me. Satrapi also seems to think that the film’s quirky style contrasting with the dark subject matter will be enough humor for the film, but this never totally works either. But while the humor never really connects, the exploration of a man with schizophrenia is actually pretty interesting. It’s probably a pretty surface level look at this affliction, but Satrapi’s visual style seems to match the film’s content nicely. It’s always entertaining to see how far Jerry will fall.

And the main reason that it’s entertaining is because of his portrayal by Reynolds. Strangely enough, Reynolds makes Jerry incredibly sympathetic and it’s easy to root for him and hope that he doesn’t get caught. We want him to stop killing, but we would rather have it happen through his own actions, rather than him getting caught. The relationship that develops between Jerry and Lisa is very sweet and Anna Kendrick is absolutely radiant in her role. We want the two of them to get together and this desire only makes the end of the film all the more upsetting.

Tackling some very dark subject matter, The Voices remains light, other than the few flashbacks scenes given to Jerry. These scenes give background to Jerry and his mom’s mental illness and their complete seriousness seems out of place in this type of film. Did knowing where Jerry’s schizophrenia came from really enhance the film at all? But other than an ending that completely undercuts everything that came before it, The Voices is shockingly inoffensive given its story and subject matter. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, but the film would have benefited from either a darker approach or adding more genuine laughs into the mix. As it stands, it’s a nice enough movie to watch, but it lacks the bite that could have really put it over the edge.

The Voices receives 2.5/4

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