Review: I’m Having A Difficult Time Killing My Parents
If one were really trying to kill their parents, I feel as though it wouldn’t be so hard to do. There’s a multitude of murderous methods that immediately come to mind: poison, guns, pit of scorpions, Strontium-90 — just to name a few.
Directed by Jeff Tomsic, and starring TJ Miller “I’m Having A Difficult Time Killing My Parents” is a subdued, dark comedy that premiered at Sundance in 2011. As the title suggests, TJ, 32 and unemployed, has some trouble attempting to kill his parents, who are in-fact his actual parents (they are great). It’s not that he doesn’t love his parents, he’s just trying to kill them, as if it were some fun game, or because he’s bored.
The short starts out on a promising high note, with a stylized fantasy sequence (akin to a hip-hop music video) of TJ driving up to his house in an expensive sports car, wearing an expensive suit, smoking something I presume to be marijuana. He then bursts through the doors into his parents living room, pulls out two guns and starts shooting his parents. The fantasy ends and we see TJ wearing a sports coat in his underwear, shooting finger guns. His parents stare for a moment before inviting him in. Everything is set up here, in the first few moments of the short. Interspersed through-out the short are scenes just like this one. I’m not sure if it makes the entire film feel cohesive or is too large of a juxtaposition.
Later we find out, through an overly long and awkward scene, that TJ’s high school ex-girlfriend, Kayte, is getting engaged. Kayte’s engagement is supposed to jump-start TJ into getting serious about life, but I feel it does the opposite. TJ takes no actions to change, although he may realize he’s on the road to nowhere, with no real goals or ambitions, he doesn’t actually do anything. Everyone around him enables his jouvenile behavior as well. His parents ignore the fact that he’s trying to kill them (albeit unsuccessfully), and Kayte gives in to easily to his childish behavior.
While I enjoy TJ Miller as comedy relief (see “Cloverfield” and “Transformers 4”), I don’t believe he has the weight of say Jonah Hill or Seth Rogen, to carry a film on his own. His comedy relies on having other characters to play off of, to interact with. Look at scenes with Brian for example. “Brian isn’t real”Those are some of the best scenes in the short, because they push the story forward, have weight to them, and are genuinely funny. I think that those scenes were more thought out, compared to scenes with Kayte, which felt more improvised. I am also putting forward the idea that Brian isn’t real, and is all in TJ’s head.
Playing yourself can be a breath of fresh air for viewers, but when they realize that you have been playing yourself all along, your range as an actor may come into question. Something makes me think that if TJ Miller takes some advice from Seth Rogen or Chris Pratt, he may find greater success.
If you’d like to hear Matt’s theory about this could all possibly be symbolism for mental illness, listen to this weeks podcast where we discuss the film.