Writer Diablo Cody made a name for herself about a decade ago with the release of “Juno,” a movie for which she received the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 2007. Since that time, her projects “Jennifer’s Body” (2009) and “Ricki and the Flash” (2015) yielded mixed results. “Young Adult” (2011) was her first pairing with Oscar-winner Charlize Theron.
With “Tully,” Cody re-teams with Theron for a tale about the trials and tribulations of motherhood that feels just plain exhausting. I’m in the clear on this one, since I don’t have the ability to carry a bundle of joy into this beloved world of ours.
“Tully” finds Theron’s Marlo character making a change at the suggestion of her brother Craig (Mark Duplass). He’s a wealthy businessman who aids his struggling sister by hiring a nanny, since Marlo is expecting her third child. In walks Tully (Mackenzie Davis, “Blade Runner 2049”), who helps with the daily grind and allows Marlo to get some shuteye.
Marlo’s husband Drew (Ron Livingston) is a good father because he helps with their eldest daughter’s homework. Otherwise, his relationship with Marlo is more of a roommate situation. He spends his time playing a video game instead of helping his wife.
Also involved is Marlo’s youngest son, a child with a short attention span and difficulties fitting in. This element alone adds to her own personal unhappiness. One
scene finds her screaming at the world; just begging to take a break from the stress that keeps falling on her head.
Director Jason Reitman knows how to spin a well-thought-out adult tale, thanks to the aforementioned script by Cody. Like his work with “Juno” and his own 2009 Oscar-nominated “Up in the Air,” Reitman knows the ins and outs of family dynamics. Family has its own ways of dealing with issues and, regardless of politics and personal differences, has a way of making things better.
This movie works on a variety of levels, including an inside “nod” to 1999’s “Fight Club,” a highly overrated movie that deals with some of the same issues of identity.
The movie tries hard to be more complex than it actually is.
“Tully” meanders in spots leading to an ultimately disappointing conclusion. I wanted to like this film, but the weird turns in the narrative prevented me from liking it more.