7 Chinese Brothers full movie review - Another Jason Schwartzman Gem - Must See
I had heard about this movie a couple months ago and kept it on my radar ever since. 7 Chinese Brothers stars Jason Schwartzman, who I've always been a big fan of.
He has an undeniable likability that he has carried with him ever since Rushmore (1998) and it never shines so brighter as it does in this film.
The film opens with Larry (Schwartzman) getting fired for taking $5.00 of a $10.00 tip from his job as a bartender. He goes out the way anyone who has left a job under bad circumstances wants to go out. He loudly tells everyone he was fired and takes a bottle of tequila.
He goes home to his adorable dog Arrow which is arguably the most significant relationship in his life. Not that he doesn't have people in his life. His only surviving relative is his grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) who he certainly cares about but like most family dynamics the unconditional love is far more complicated than with Arrow. He asks his grandma for money and though she has it, she refuses; and with good reason. She asks him how he would feel if someone consistently showed up with they needed something. Her hope is that he stand on his own two feet, learn Spanish, and find someone to be with.
His closest friend is Major (Tunde Adebimpe) who works at his grandmother's senior facility. He's nice, sincerely cares about Larry and sells him prescription drugs at a low fee. Beyond the scripts, he takes, Larry also drinks way too much. Rest easy, we're not going down the depressing spiral that is Leaving Las Vegas (1995). This isn't a movie about an addict or addiction. It's a movie about a guy who is nice and funny but just doesn't know what he wants or where to go to get it.
He manages to get a job at a Quick Lube where he instantly develops an attraction to his boss Lupe (Eleanore Pienta). Upon meeting her, Major develops feelings for her as well. The two men never really fight and though Larry definitely feels inadequate in many ways compared to his friend, they remain very close.
Once again, this movie takes a very high-road. In so many lesser films there's an all out war between best friends who fight to the death for the person they both desire. Aside from a moment of small sabotage where Larry lies about Major having a prosthetic leg, he doesn't try to keep the two apart. Even when Larry lies to Lupe it fits with the character completely and when confronted about the lie, there's is a big blowout or fight. There's just an honest explanation as to why he felt the need to tell her that.
Lupe plays a pivotal role that is refreshingly unique. She isn't treated like some prize to win nor do they follow the trope of having her accuse the men of sexism while playing a woman all-to- willing to be fought over. This movie is smarter than that and far more realistic. More often than not, when two friends who are both generally good people have affection for the same individual life just goes on. There's a discussion about it, but overall everyone tries to be careful and wary of the other's feelings which is what good people do. They're honest as much as they can be. They certainly fall victim to pride or jealousy once in awhile, but overall rationale takes over and things work out in whatever way they do. Most human beings accept that and it's great to see a movie which acknowledges that aspect of behavior.
Lupe doesn't play the victim at all. She doesn't pit the men against one another. She like everyone else is trying to figure their life out. She's a mother who works with her ex-husband. She's strong, self-sufficient and enjoys her job. She also isn't instantly charmed with Larry's quirky jokes. Some make her laugh and some make her roll her eyes which again is so real. She isn't a doe-eyed gal put there for eye-candy as merely a romantic interest. She has a real solid role in the film being both a good friend who tries to watch out for her employees and a good person overall.
Major life events trigger something in Larry that changes his perspective and reignites an ambition within him. It's not like there's a 180 on the character, but more-so just a comfortability in his own skin. Schwartzman portrays it brilliantly ensuring every moment comes across as genuine and real.
The entire cast is fantastic and adds so much to the production. Arrow is just an adorable French Bulldog that I want to hug and take home with me, but being that it is really Jason Schwartzman's dog, I don't think he's up for adoption.
Another key component of the film is the the music. From the start when Larry gets fired and all the way up until the last song, the music helps set the tone and the mood. They are all perfectly well selected and great tunes by great artists.
I would certainly suggest purchasing this one immediately. It's a smart movie for smart people and is all heart. Don't waste time or money renting, as with most of Scwartzman's work this is definitely one to own.