“What if we turned all our fights into songs?” That’s the idea hatched by a creatively and maritally frustrated L.A. couple in “Band Aid,” a very funny — and then deeply emotional — comedy written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones (from TV’s “Life in Pieces”), starring her and well-matched goofball Adam Pally.
They play Anna and Ben, a struggling writer (sort of) and graphic designer (also sort of) whose friends are finding work in showbiz while they stagnate, brimming with creative impulses with no place to put them. When they’re getting along, Anna and Ben are a likable married couple, both witty, natural performers who joke and improvise with each other. The problem is, they rarely get along anymore. They fight constantly, to the extent that you wonder how their marriage (which couldn’t have been more than a few years ago) ever happened.
But they both have a bit of musical talent, and a playful moment with toy instruments at a friend’s kid’s birthday party leads to their epiphany. Perhaps writing silly songs about the arguments they’re always having will help exorcise those arguments, or at least dilute their power. With the assistance of a supremely wacky neighbor named Dave (Fred Armisen, more cartoonish than anyone else in the movie, but that’s OK) on the drums, they form a little band.
The idea works at first. The act of co-writing the songs (which turn out catchy and forgettable) reintroduces the thrill of discovery to their relationship. Soon, though, it becomes apparent that the band idea was just … well, a Band-Aid, covering up their real issues.
That’s when the movie gets serious, revealing layers we didn’t expect as those real issues are treated with the weight they deserve. It’s nothing devastating — the story doesn’t become a downer — but it does afford Lister-Jones and Pally the opportunity for some emotionally raw scenes as their characters do some growing up. Ben’s mother (Susie Essman) has a talk with him gently summarizing the differences between men and women (hormonally, emotionally, etc.), and you get the sense that neither he nor Anna has ever really considered that the other spouse has an entirely different thought process.
The first half of the film, besides being peppered with funny dialogue, captures the exhilaration of making music and the general pleasure of creative collaboration. The second half fills out that light framework with insightful details about personal growth and making relationships work. Even single people and non-musical couples are bound to find it entertaining, if not completely relatable.
B+ (1 hr., 31 min.; )