“Take Care” starts off with an unlikely premise and an unlikeable heroine, but it emerges as a not entirely terrible comedy. Calling the film “not entirely terrible” may seem like an unnecessarily negative way to phrase “okay,” but if you’ve seen the trailer, it’s actually an improvement on what you think you’re getting into. The fault lies in the premise, as well as in its characters and their decisions. Though the plot gets points for originality, there may be a reason why no one has told this story before: it’s ridiculous. But “Take Care” occasionally succeeds with funny dialogue and performances from Leslie Bibb and Thomas Sadoski.
Bibb stars as Frannie, a woman living our worst New York City nightmare. A car crash has left her with both a broken leg and a broken arm in a city full of stairs and subways and fifth floor walk-ups. Homebound Frannie is dependent on her friends and sister (Nadia Dajani), but none of them can give her the care she needs to feed herself, go to the bathroom, or simply move around in her apartment. She’s also impressively unlikeable when the film begins, but we try to give her the benefit of the doubt given the pain she’s likely in. With all other avenues for support exhausted, she turns to her ex-boyfriend Devon (Sadoski), whom her friends have nicknamed “Devil.”
Given that Frannie nursed Devon through two years of cancer treatments, it’s not as unlikely a pick as it may seem. However, that doesn’t make Devon—or Jodi, his girlfriend with jealousy issues (Betty Gilpin)—any happier when he reluctantly agrees to take care of her. Predictably, they grow closer as he takes care of her, reminding each one of their time together and bonding over reruns of “Law & Order” (perhaps our favorite jokes of the film). For better or worse, there’s little doubt where “Take Care” is going, particularly given the demonization of Jodi throughout the film.
Liz Tuccillo of “Sex and the City,” and the book “He’s Just Not That Into You,” wrote and directed “Take Care” as her first feature. She was a story editor for the HBO show, and wrote “The Post-It Always Sticks Twice,” which is one of the more memorable episodes of the series (or at least contains one of its more memorable moments). This is a capably directed film, especially for a first time out, but the issue lies more in the story and moments within the film. Tuccillo does a great job with the jokes (as do the cast members with their delivery), but we’d expect a better script. A number of unlikely events collide to ensure that Frannie has no other options but to approach Devon. Where the nurse (Elizabeth Rodriguez) who is supposed to come every other day is, we’ll never know. Breaking her left leg and right arm is as inconvenient for Frannie as it is convenient for the film’s plot since that particular combination leaves her unable to perform even the most basic of tasks. There’s a subplot with a noisy, exercise-obsessed neighbor (Michael Stahl-David) that feels unnecessary, though occasionally entertaining—a description that seems appropriate for the film itself.
Bibb and Sadoski are good together, and the film’s pleasures stem almost solely from their interactions. Even when Bibb’s character seems written to grate, she does a good job rising above it and bringing the audience to her team. Sadoski has demonstrated talent on “The Newsroom,” but it’s great to see his comedic range here.
Though the film barely leaves Frannie’s apartment, it does nicely capture New York life and its residents’ mentality in most moments, particularly in Frannie’s frustration with her neighbor and his odd habits. But we’ll never understand why a starving Frannie gulps mayonnaise instead of ordering from Seamless, and why startup guy Devon still uses what looks like a BlackBerry.
Perhaps unsurprising, given Tuccillo’s roots on the small screen, that “Take Care” feels like it would be more at home if it skipped theaters entirely. It would make more sense as a TV movie or a direct-to-iTunes offering. It’s not bad, but it’s not worth leaving your house for—even if you have use of all your limbs. [C]