Despite Its Title, 'The Year Of Spectacular Men' Is Mostly About Women The Year Of Spectacular Men is a comedy that's a real family affair. It's directed by Lea Thompson and written by her daughter, Madelyn Deutch, who also stars in the film.
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Despite Its Title, 'The Year Of Spectacular Men' Is Mostly About Women

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Despite Its Title, 'The Year Of Spectacular Men' Is Mostly About Women

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Despite Its Title, 'The Year Of Spectacular Men' Is Mostly About Women

Despite Its Title, 'The Year Of Spectacular Men' Is Mostly About Women

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The Year Of Spectacular Men is a comedy that's a real family affair. It's directed by Lea Thompson and written by her daughter, Madelyn Deutch, who also stars in the film.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Despite its title, the new romantic comedy "The Year Of Spectacular Men" is mostly about women. Critic Bob Mondello says men do play a role, though, by providing lots of complications.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: From the start, there's a Woody Allen vibe - early Woody Allen.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Izzy was the first girl I met in, I mean, years who was...

MONDELLO: This is the boyfriend...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) ...Insecure enough...

MONDELLO: ...Who is no great catch.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) ...To think that I was right for her.

MONDELLO: Then there's the self-absorbed actor...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) She was insistent that I told her how I felt. Can you believe that? Who does that?

MONDELLO: ...And the admittedly sweet but really inarticulate musician...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Dude, she's my fabric softener.

MONDELLO: ...And others, none of them quite right for Izzy, who is just finishing college in New York and having a quarter-life crisis wondering what to do next. Her little sister has plenty of ideas.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

ZOEY DEUTCH: (As Sabrina) Why don't you take the year for yourself? You're a millennial. You could try the whole, like, having fun in your 20s thing. They're all doing it except for me.

MONDELLO: Sabrina is a model/actress who's a big enough deal to get recognized as they're walking.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Oh, my God, Sabrina, can I get a pic?

Z. DEUTCH: (As Sabrina) Yeah.

MONDELLO: This does nothing of course for Izzy's self-esteem, but she recognizes that while Sabrina may be the little sister, she's the wiser sister when it comes to romantic breakups.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

Z. DEUTCH: (As Sabrina) What? He leaves you in a totally heartless way and is shallower than a kiddie pool. You're post-breakup. You're pre-real world. Save a little face while you still have some.

MONDELLO: And Sabrina has a couch to crash on when the boyfriend kicks Izzy out, which makes listening to advice kind of a requirement.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

Z. DEUTCH: (As Sabrina) How many times did you call me and you were like, he's a lunatic? He is a lunatic.

MADELYN DEUTCH: (As Izzy) I'm doing a scene with a really hot new guy from class.

Z. DEUTCH: (As Sabrina) When I said there are other fishes in the sea, I meant, like, look through the sea, not immediately at the first person that shows up.

MONDELLO: If these two sound like sisters, it's partly because in real life they are sisters. Madelyn Deutch, who plays Izzy, also wrote the script. Zoey Deutch, who plays Sabrina, is indeed a successful model/slash actress. Their mother is Lea Thompson, who got her acting break in another growing-up saga, "Back To The Future." She's sitting in the director's chair for this one and playing their mother.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

LEA THOMPSON: (As Deb) Honey, Sabrina told me you had waffles for dinner the other night.

M. DEUTCH: (As Izzy) Why are you - you and Sabrina have conversations about my diet?

THOMPSON: (As Deb) It's a concern of the family's.

MONDELLO: So in many senses, "The Year Of Spectacular Men" is a family affair. It's also a consistently funny affair not just when Izzy's interacting with the variously unspectacular men on offer but in the sisters' inevitable Monday morning quarterbacking.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

M. DEUTCH: (As Izzy) I think it's over.

Z. DEUTCH: (As Sabrina) You can never trust a guy who has 20 of the same shirt in the same color. It's not natural. That's not OK.

M. DEUTCH: (As Izzy) It's not.

MONDELLO: Being woman-centric, the film qualifies as a nice corrective to the sort of comedies it most resembles, those '80s rom coms that joked about romance novel conventions without actually challenging them. The script's take on Hollywood is amusingly in the know - the Greek chorus of paparazzi outside Sabrina's apartment, the Hollywood couple that's not stuck on itself, the indignities of the audition circuit. For a film that marks both a screenwriting debut and a big screen directing debut, "The Year Of Spectacular Men" makes very few rookie mistakes, and the ones it does are easily outweighed by the snap of the dialogue.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN")

M. DEUTCH: (As Izzy) All I said was that he's good-looking. That's it.

Z. DEUTCH: (As Sabrina) Don't do it, Izzy.

M. DEUTCH: (As Izzy) All I...

Z. DEUTCH: (As Sabrina) Don't...

M. DEUTCH: (As Izzy) That's...

Z. DEUTCH: (As Sabrina) ...Do...

M. DEUTCH: (As Izzy) So...

Z. DEUTCH: (As Sabrina) ...It.

MONDELLO: Also by the believable back-and-forth of two fun sisters playing sisters. I'm Bob Mondello.

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