Given that Landis is directing his own script, it should come as no surprise that ME HIM HER’s greatest strength is its writing. I loved that its central premise targeted Hollywood’s attitudes towards gay actors, an ongoing and complex issue to which the film smartly doesn’t try to offer an easy resolution. The decision to give Brendan (Luke Bracey)’s storyline a happy ending is important for affirming the script’s LGBT-positive message, but as a recent Indiewire article pointed out, there remains systemic pressure for relative unknowns in film and television to suppress parts of their identity to receive more job opportunities. Indeed, Brendan’s PR team cynically suggest in an early scene that when and how to come out is more important than the announcement itself, which he even follows outside of professional settings.
This mounting pressure and uncertainty is why both Brendan and the film need Cory (Dustin Milligan) to provide levity. Although his storyline is more predictable and unfortunately steals the focus away from Brendan’s, in my opinion it was necessary to achieve Landis’s desired tone. Cory at times feels like a character from a cartoon or comic, particularly during a Scott Pilgrim-esque swordfight sequence, and his outright wackiness is where ME HIM HER’s direction borrows most heavily from John Landis-era comedy. I found this was most enjoyable when Cory and Brendan were given the chance to play off each other such as in a brilliant scene reuniting with the latter’s parents; Bracey and Milligan have a dynamic that feels like the believable product of a long friendship, and typically led to strong one-liners. Nevertheless, Cory’s plot thread ultimately amounts to his attempts to get closer to Gabbi (Emily Meade) after a one-night stand, which was simply unengaging beyond leading to some of his zanier behaviour and as previously mentioned was given too much runtime.
My issues with the Cory-Gabbi plot are closely linked to ME HIM HER’s most glaring issue: strange and occasionally ill-advised directing choices. I felt that a dream sequence featuring the duo was shot so confusingly that it brought the pacing to a halt, and throughout the film lines of dialogue would be given subtitles or appear printed onscreen in huge letters seemingly at random and without any explanation. Meanwhile, Gabbi’s realisation of her bisexuality could’ve been explicitly paralleled with Brendan’s coming out, yet Meade seemed to become more passive and mumbled her dialogue during the second half outside of a single scene. As writer-director, Landis should have facilitated a greater consistency between the ostensible motivations from his script and the actors’ interpretations.
Overall, ME HIM HER reveals plenty of potential from Max Landis as a comedic auteur, and he should continue working within the genre so that the role of director feels more intuitive. With a script that manages to stay optimistic and funny while giving a nuanced take on a contemporary issue, it makes for a charming and easy watch.