February 15, 2021
by Carla Hay
Directed by Thomas F. Mazziotti
Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed suburb in New York state, the comedy film “The Mimic” features an all-white cast of characters representing the middle-class.
Culture Clash: A writer is annoyed by a younger man who follows him everywhere and seems to want to copy everything that the writer does.
Culture Audience: “The Mimic” will appeal primarily to people who have the patience to sit through a movie whose comedy is too self-conscious and awkward for its own good.
In the comedy film “The Mimic,” a struggling screenwriter is aggravated because he’s being stalked by a younger man who seems to want to imitate everything about this writer’s life. But viewers will be doubly irritated because both of these characters are equally obnoxious in this dull and time-wasting film. Written and directed by Thomas F. Mazzioti, “The Mimic” is one of those movies that tries too hard to be deadpan funny, but the dialogue is often idiotic and downright cringeworthy.
Most of the characters in this movie don’t have names. In the film’s credits, the two central characters are listed as The Narrator (played by Thomas Sadoski) and The Kid (played by Jake Robinson), who are at odds with each other for almost the entire story. The Narrator is a 41-year-old widower who writes for a small newspaper in the unnamed suburb where he lives in New York state. The Kid is a 31-year-old married man who’s recently moved near The Narrator. The Kid begins stalking The Narrator and tries to copy his mannerisms and actions. Neither of these men has kids, which is a good thing, because no child deserves to have insufferable parents like these two self-absorbed creeps.
It’s soon becomes clear to viewers that there’s nothing about The Narrator’s life or personality that’s worth mimicking. He’s bitter about being alone, and he doesn’t like to see other people happy in their personal lives. And he has a weird obsession with the concept of being a sociopath—so much so that he immediately calls The Kid a sociopath. And he keeps calling him a sociopath repeatedly, when it wasn’t even funny the first time.
Needless to say, “The Mimic” is one of those movies that has annoying voiceover narration from you-know-who. And making things worse, the entire movie is filled with cheesy sitcom music as the film score. The actors in the movie are adequate but can’t save this embarrassing and clunky film that can’t decide whether it wants to be a dark comedy or a screwball comedy.
“The Mimic” starts out somewhat promising, by appearing to be unconventional and unpredictable. The opening line is a voiceover of The Narrator saying, “The high point of the weekend was when my St. Bernard fell through my attic ceiling and landed on my kitchen table.”
Why? Because The Kid was up in the attic snorting cocaine and somehow the dog fell through the floor. It sounds like a situation ripe for some potentially hilarious slapstick, but the movie just mentions this scenario and does nothing clever with it. There are too many moments in this film where it’s nothing but silly arguments and unimaginative action.
The first time that The Narrator meets The Kid, it’s when The Kid shows up unannounced at a newspaper staff meeting and says he wants to write for the paper. Apparently, this newspaper has no budget for an office but instead the staffers meet in someone’s living room. The Narrator says in a voiceover: “I first met The Kid when he infiltrated our small-town newspaper, right after my wife died. I say ‘infiltrated,’ because I believe it was a deliberate action to meet me.”
Up until The Kid came along, The Narrator (who says he’s a trying to write a screenplay) was the only man on the staff. The rest of the newspaper employees are four middle-aged and elderly women, who hire The Kid on the spot without even interviewing him. The Narrator thinks these women are all tedious and uptight because they obsess over things like comma placement in an article. Meanwhile, the only reason why this scene seems to exist is to have Marilu Henner, Didi Conn and Jessica Walter share a scene, since they play three of the women on the newspaper staff.
In fact, “The Mimic” is filled with cameos from character actors whose names are best known to people who are familiar to TV shows and movies from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. M. Emmet Walsh, Austin Pendleton and Josh Pais all make brief appearances in the movie, which wastes their talent with nonsensical scenes. Gina Gershon has a cameo as a woman who has a tryst with The Kid in a restaurant ladies’ room, because the movie keeps mentioning that The Kid has a thing for older women.
After The Narrator and The Kid meet, The Kid starts showing up in the same places where The Narrator is and says to him: “We’re on the same wavelength!” At an outdoor park, The Kid and The Narrator have a conversation where The Kid reveals a little bit more about his personal life.
The Kid, who moved from New Jersey to New York, says he’s been married for seven years to his high-school sweetheart, but their marriage hit a rough patch when he left her for an older woman. That affair didn’t last, and his wife took him back. The Kid then inexplicably plucks two giant mushrooms from the park and holds each mushroom upright in each hand during this conversation, so this movie can make his character look “quirky.” It’s one of many sight gags in the movie that don’t work well at all.
As much as The Kid seems to be obsessed with The Narrator for unknown reasons, The Narrator is also fixated on The Kid. At an optometrist appointment, The Narrator is asked to read the eye chart and he can only see the word “sociopath,” so he spells it out for the doctor who’s giving the eye exam. The Narrator says, “I’m a writer and I’m still trying to read between the lines.” The Narrator also goes to a library to do more research on sociopaths.
Later, The Narrator and The Kid have a long-winded conversation at a restaurant. The Narrator (and the audience) can’t be certain how much of what The Kid says is true and how much is a lie. However, The Narrator becomes intrigued about learning more about The Kid’s wife because she sounds like the type of wife whom The Narrator wishes he had.
The Narrator and The Kid have other meet-ups, such as at a tennis court, a hospital and eventually at The Kid’s house. The Kid’s wife seems to be elusive though, so that becomes a subplot that doesn’t really go anywhere. “The Mimic” is such a badly written movie that it never actually shows The Narrator or The Kid having lives outside of their moronic conversations.
The Narrator says that he’s using his experiences with The Kid as his next screenplay, but the movie never shows him doing any work either on the screenplay or at his newspaper job. Whatever The Kid does to make money, it remains vague and questionable, just like many other things about this character’s life.
How bad is “The Mimic”? In a scene where The Narrator and The Kid first have dinner together at what looks to be a mid-priced restaurant, The Narrator says in a voiceover: “It’s been my experience, with women at least, that if she orders white wine, she’s classy. If she orders red wine, she has class, but she can get a little wild. And if she orders rosé, she’s a slut.”
Guess which type of wine The Kid orders, considering that he’s supposed to be the “crazy” one of this duo? The Kid’s obsession with The Narrator and vice versa have some undertones of homoeroticism, which The Narrator seems to acknowledge when he says, “This is turning into a gay relationship without the sex.”
In another of many scenes with bad dialogue, Pais portrays The Narrator’s unnamed lawyer, who meets with The Narrator over lunch at a restaurant. For no reason whatsoever, the lawyer says, “I hate cats. They close their eyes when they eat. I want them to know who’s feeding them and who’s paying for everything.”
If people have the misfortune to watch this terrible movie from beginning to end, they’ll be closing their eyes too from falling asleep (because it’s so boring) or because they want to un-see some of the stupidity that’s on the screen.
Gravitas Ventures released “The Mimic” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on February 5, 2021.