The Puffy Chair (USA; 85 min.)

directed by: Jay Duplass
starring: Mark Duplass; Kathryn Asleton; Rhett Wilkins
The Puffy Chair

Chris says: "The titular piece of furniture is an old burgundy La-Z-Boy purchased on E-bay by Josh (Mark Duplass). He sets off from New York with his girlfriend Emily (Kathryn Aselton) to pick up the chair in rural Virginia so he can deliver it to his father (who used to own one just like it) in Atlanta as a birthday gift. Along the way, they're joined by his somewhat flaky brother Rhett (Rhett Wilkins), much to Emily's chagrin.

At first, THE PUFFY CHAIR gives the impression that's it's going to be little more than a low-budget rambling road movie about inarticulate twentysomethings--Andrew Bujalski in an oversized van heading south. But this, the first feature from Duplass (who also wrote the screenplay) and his brother Jay (who directed) is so much more than that. In their task of acquiring and delivering this chair, Josh, Emily and Rhett endure one (usually but not always comic) misadventure after another. However, the film is really a tight character study about how messy relationships (both romantic and fraternal) often are, and a smart, nuanced one at that. Ending in a very different place (both physically and emotionally) than where the film began, the tender, honest, gutsy final scene bodes well for the Duplass' future. 4 cats"

Michael says: "Josh has purchased a burgundy recliner on e-bay, reminiscent of a childhood family chair, for his father’s birthday. Now he travels with his girlfriend from their homes in New York to North Carolina to pick up the chair, with the intention of heading next to Atlanta to see his father. Emily’s presence on the trip is rather spontaneous after we witness her somewhat hidden resentment at his doing this without her in the opening scene. Along the way they pick up Josh’s pseudo-hippie brother Rhett, much to both their disappointments. From their the misadventures pile up, as each character shows themselves to be pretty flawed in their own way, and the gentle balance they shared at the outset comes crashing down around them. THE PUFFY CHAIR, on first glance a road trip, is actually a study of relationships, most importantly, the central relationship between Josh and Emily.

"This clever, sometimes funny, sometimes infuriating first feature from the Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay is a strong debut. Jay handles the directing chores, while Mark is the writer and also plays Josh. Mark will next appear as an actor in Joe Swanberg’s second film following LOL.

"One thing I did discover is that I have difficulty putting up with pseudo-hippy characters in films with very large beards (Rhett in this film, and Will Oldham in OLD JOY). I found both characters extremely infuriating (as they were certainly meant to be). I’ll give THE PUFFY CHAIR 3 ½ cats"