Here’s a movie that takes almost two hours to reach a conclusion that would take most people about five minutes to come to. Alex & The List is a “romantic” “comedy” about a man, Alex (Patrick Fugit), and a list—it’s anyone’s guess how the title was conceived—given to him by his girlfriend, Katherine (Jennifer Morrison), telling him how to be a better person for her. Let me repeat: his girlfriend gives him a list of ways for him to be a better person.
Most of Alex & The List follows Alex as he tries to religiously—in one case, literally—follow this list. Many of them are petty. “Like regular sports” is the third item on the list. They play out like a series of unfunny skits, separated by chapter headings, focusing almost solely on the task at hand. None of it is interesting, engaging, or funny. Alex & The List was directed and co-written by Harris Goldberg, who co-wrote Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and The Master of Disguise, so you can probably figure out where it ranks on the comedic totem pole based on those alone.
It also, somehow, plays for almost two hours. Most indie “comedies” try to keep the running time around 90 minutes, in large part because they know they can’t sustain themselves for any longer—nd because it costs more money to film more movie, typically speaking. This one doesn’t have the ideas to hold itself up for longer than a 30-minute episode of a sitcom, but still decides to run for almost four times longer than that. By the time it’s been playing for an hour, it’s hard to imagine anyone still caring.
Part of the problem is that it’s repetitive. Similar scenes play consecutively and accomplish very little. Alex has a group of friends, all of whom fill the same role in his life and the movie: “give me advice.” So, he asks one, gets an answer, moves to the next, gets a similar answer, and you can rinse and repeat that several times. Good editing removes those redundancies, and probably would have made it slightly more tolerable.
But, even then, we still would have had to deal with a painfully unfunny screenplay, two lead actors who have no chemistry with each other, characters who have little depth—Alex is the only one who gets anything, and that’s because the plot demands that he either adapts to or rejects the list, with either choice giving us insight into him as a person. Well, as much as a movie where “does he like sports or does he dislike sports?” qualifies as depth. We live in a world of relativity, after all.
Alex & The List is a movie that takes almost two hours to say what most people could figure out from just reading its description or watching its trailer. It’s a “romantic” “comedy” without any romance or laughs, has two leads with little tangible chemistry, needs a lot of trimming of repetitive scenes, and provides almost no entertainment. Its premise might have fit as an episode of a 30-minute sitcom that’s already been on the air for a couple of seasons—giving us characters we already know and like first—but as a standalone movie that runs for almost two hours, it doesn’t work.
Conclusion: Alex & The List is a terrible and overlong “romantic” “comedy.”
Recommendation: There is no reason to watch Alex & The List.