MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Voices’ Blends Murder, Comedy, And Mental Illness With Mixed Results


Film: The Voices
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
Directed By: Marjane Satrapi

Part black comedy, part cautionary tale of untreated mental disease, The Voices is an uneven murderous romp carried almost entirely by its star.

Ryan Reynolds stars as Jerry, a seemingly mild-mannered factory worker living above an abandoned bowling alley somewhere in middle America. Jerry appears normal on the surface, albeit a little shy when it comes to public speaking, but when he finds himself alone at home things start to get a little weird. Jerry talks to his animals, which is something many of us can relate to, but I’m fairly certain none of your pets ever talk back. Jerry’s do, and when they choose to speak they often encourage him to murder people.

The Voices presents itself as a pitch black comedy from the very beginning, and for a while that label is fairly accurate. Around the halfway point though, the story begins to change, and audiences are able to see the differences between Jerry’s perspective on life and the way everyone else sees things. It’s a somewhat shocking transitional sequence, and it’s one that changes the entire tone of the film. Fun is still very much a priority, but just beneath the service lies a cautionary tale of what may happen when someone who recognizes the fact they’re unlike everyone else chooses to keep what makes them unique a secret.

Reynolds has been given many films to carry over the course of his career, but The Voices presents a truly unique and strange challenge. Not only does Reynolds portray Jerry, but he also provides the voices of several other characters, all of whom he must interact with at various points in the film. It’s thrilling to witness, and it’s executed in such a way that it all feels seamless. I think his performance as Jerry is still the standout of the lot, but there will likely be several who connect more with Bosco (his dog) or Mr. Whiskers (his cat).

There are other talented people along for the journey as well, though not everyone makes it to the credits with their life in tact. Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick, for example, both portray women whom Jerry takes an interest in at one point or another. Kendrick’s a bit more memorable in the role, but Arterton delivers some of the film’s biggest laughs. Likewise, Jackie Weaver shines as Jerry’s psychologist, though her presence is horribly underutilized until well into the film’s third act.

Though the comedy elements and somewhat heartbreaking moments of reality work to make The Voices an entertaining romp, the film struggles to find a balance between these two throughout the movie’s duration. The first half is inarguably built on jokes, but the last half attempts to inject a bit of seriousness that never connects the way it should. You get what is happening, and you understand how things are different when shown from Jerry’s point of view, but the impact of that significant disconnect between perception and reality never hits home as powerfully as writer Michael R. Perry and director Marjane Satrapi likely hoped it would.

Emotional shortcomings aside, The Voices is a genuinely unique take on the world of mental illness and the troubling things that can happen if a sickness goes untreated. It’s also a hilarious take on the idea of humans interacting with their pets, but it’s rarely able to make both these ideas work at the same time. As a result, the film struggles to keep the strong momentum it has early on, and even though things end with one of the most bizarre musical numbers in recent memory it’s probably not enough to convince you The Voices is worth more than a single watch.


Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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