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“The Lie,” reviewed

“The Lie,” reviewed (photo)

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Lonnie’s pretty young for a mid-life crisis but he’s having one all the same. A still-shaggy recovering hippie somewhere in his thirties, Lonnie (Joshua Leonard) loves his wife Clover (Jess Weixler) and baby Xana and absolutely hates his job as a commercial editor. Already depressed, he’s knocked for a loop when he learns Clover, who’s just finishing law school, is about to accept a job at a pharmaceutical company, a decision that flies in the face of their family’s progressive beliefs about public advocacy, holistic medicine and organic diapers. The next morning, Lonnie snaps. He plays hooky from work and has a blast smoking weed and recording music with his buddy Tank (Mark Webber). He has so much fun, in fact, he tries to skip out on work again the next day, but this time his boss won’t hear it. Fumbling for an excuse, Lonnie blurts out maybe the worst one he could ever possibly give: he claims his daughter just died.

That’s the lie at the heart of “The Lie,” the solo directorial debut from Leonard, best known as one of the stars of “The Blair Witch Project” and the delightful indie comedy “Humpday.” Though “The Lie” is based on short story by T.C. Boyle, “Humpday” feels like its direct inspiration. Both films are about young married men trying to reconcile the domestic guys they’ve become with the cool, free-spirited dudes they used to be. Both films also contrast straight-laced protagonists with hedonistic friends who never settled down. Interestingly, Leonard’s switched roles this time through the story; in “Humpday” he was the wild child who never grew up; in “The Lie” he’s the former pothead turned responsible breadwinner.

“The Lie” and “Humpday” also share a cinematographer (Benjamin Kasulke) and an improvisational approach to dialogue (on “Humpday,” Leonard and co-star Mark Duplass invented their lines on the set; on “The Lie,” actors Leonard, Weixler, and Webber are credited as screenwriters). In other words, Leonard hasn’t exactly broken new ground with his first feature. He doesn’t bring much to the table visually, either. But he has made a funny and believable family comedy. Its greatest asset is its cast, particularly Weixler, who proves herself a very talented silent comedienne. Her reaction shots in the scene where Lonnie plays Clover his band’s terrible music — music that reveals his frustration with his life, and by implication, with her — are absolutely priceless.

As the lie becomes “The Lie,” Leonard does a nice job of ramping up the comedy without sacrificing the believability of the world he’s established; the movie is very funny at times but it’s never outlandish. His only serious misstep is his choice of endings. For a story that’s rooted so deeply in a realistic approach to character and dialogue, the conclusion of “The Lie” plays too much like a fantasy. Leonard clearly has some affection for his characters, and he provides them with an escape hatch from their problems that’s a bit too easy. In a movie about the hard truths of marriage and adulthood, it just feels like a lie.

“The Lie” opens in limited release Friday. If you see it, we want to know what you think. Tell us in the comments below, or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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