Comedian Jeff Garlin’s laid-back style is much in evidence in his new comedy, “Dealin’ With Idiots.” Most of the film, which he directed and co-wrote, has him reacting — UNDER-reacting — to the idiots of the film’s title. They’re Little League parents, coaches and a league commissioner named “Commissioner Gordon.”
They toss tantrums, make threats, are inexplicably rude to each other and build their lives around idiotic rules, “structure” and micro-managing their little darlings — the players.
Sounds like a movie to stand-up comic Max Morris (Garlin). He starts questioning one and all, gathering material for a screenplay. Max tries to hold back, tries to avoid taking every punchline they set him up for, tries not to have his feelings hurt.
“You’re a comedian, huh?”
“I AM a comedian.”
“Not a very popular one.”
Max, whose wife (Nia Vardalos ) tries to talk him out of this, takes a peek into the crumbling world of an oft-married deadbeat dad (Fred Willard ) and a bickering lesbian couple (Gina Gershon and Kerri Kenney ).
Jami Gertz plays another in a long line of rules-bound martinets, Richard Kind is cast as yet another shlub trapped under her thumb. JB Smoove is the lady-hustling coach who ignores the kids. Bob Odenkirk is the real manager — actually a printing shop manager — who probably should ignore the kids, for their own good.
And Max just takes it all in, trying not to comment, venting only to his wife.
“What is WRONG with these people? What are they missing in their lives that makes them act like idiots?”
Max (and Garlin) figure it out. Maybe with a little help from the ghost of Max’s ball-coach dad (Timothy Olyphant ).
And that’s when this slight and droll comedy pays off, with an ending that is anything but “laid back.”
Like “Everybody Loves Raymond,” this isn’t really about the kids. They’re bystanders to the adults behaving like big, spoiled foul-mouthed babies.
Garlin doesn’t discover anything new about this well-documented phenomenon. But rounding up his (underemployed) comic pals and turning them loose on Little League is funny enough by itself.
DEALIN’ WITH IDIOTS
Cast: Jeff Garlin, Nia Vardalos, Gina Gershon, JB Smoove, Fred Willard, Jami Gertz, Richard Kind
Directed by Jeff Garlin, written by Jeff Garlin and Peter Murrieta. An IFC release
Running time: 1:23
MPAA rating: Unrated, with some blasts of profanity