She’s breaking my heart

Austin-based director/actor Bob Byington’s “Harmony and Me” (2009) was one of the surprise hits of the 2010 Wisconsin Film Festival. Somehow, this 75-minute “romantic” (for lack of a better word) comedy filled the 1000+ seat Union Theater to maximum capacity. However, its reception by that audience is another story. J.J. Murphy wrote:

if I were to pick one indie film of the past year that I would jump at the chance to see over and over again, it would be Harmony and Me, a film in which every single scene manages to work, while being woven into an intricate medley of idiosyncratic humor. And I say this as someone who generally shuns comedies for the simple reason that most of them aren’t very funny.

Fearful Symmetries’ Palmer thought differently:

Despite really wanting to like Harmony and Me I ended up feeling like director Bob Byington tried way too hard to create a childish movie and ended up succeeding. I mean this literally. While I like things crass, this movie was something my 10-year old stepson would probably fall over laughing at. I mean, I like The Three Stooges but this just gave shallow and insulting a bad name.

I’m with Murphy on this one; “Harmony and Me” features hilarious turns by Alex Karpovsky (“Beeswax”), Pat Healy (“Rescue Dawn”; “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”), Kevin Corrigan (you name it, he was in it) and Byington himself (who also had a memorable role in “Beeswax”). There is indeed a pervasive whinyness throughout the film (mostly courtesy of mumblecore man-about-town Justin Rice), but it’s so calculated and cleverly deployed that I simply don’t see how anybody could find it grating rather than funny. That Byington and his collaborators were able to achieve such a consistently high and dry level of hilarity with ostensibly D.Y.I. means is a marvel.

Like Murphy, I too could revisit “Harmony” over and over again. Well, now I’ve got my chance to do so: Four Star Video Heaven just began carrying “Harmony and Me” on DVD. I’ve got a hunch that you’re going to like it, and I’m not just saying that.

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