Led by a truly remarkable performance from Cobie Smulders, Alright Now is an improvisational feat.
American-born rock musician Joanne Skye decides to enroll in college after ending a relationship with her boyfriend. Her band was unable to attract an audience on tour. This leads to the Filthy Dukes quickly collapsing. It’s foolish decision after foolish decision leading to Joanne enrolling in a coastal college during one drunken night. Yep, there’s a meet-cute with admissions clerk, Pete (Richard Elis). These college students are among a different generation so their not knowing who she is is not surprising. Even though Joanne’s band saw a number one hit for fourteen consecutive weeks, none of these students have heard of them.
She’s just another woman to them. They don’t care about her musical past. Everyone has their own tastes but this just leads to more humor. There’s a point in which she turns to her father (Griffin Dunne) for advice and one can’t help but get emotional. The conversation leads into the third act. Joanne has already decided that she’s moving back home to Seattle but the question remains what to do about Pete. Pete clearly cares about her. We know this from when we see him angrily storm out upon Joanne drunkenly kissing Larry (Noel Clarke).
The fact that the film was completely improvised and shot over the course of five days is truly remarkable. I can buy the fact that the film is improvised. I just have a hard time buying the film being shot over five days. This doesn’t mean it didn’t happen because, well, it did. It only makes the music video for “What Did We Learn Today” truly astonishing! It’s truly impressive filmmaking on the part of writer-director Jamie Adams (Wild Honey Pie) but also the stellar cast led by the aforementioned Smulders.
Cobie Smulders, the How I Met Your Mother veteran, is no stranger to playing musicians. I know what you’re thinking. When am I going to mention Robin Sparkles? Right? The actress approaches Joanne Skye in a way that’s different from how she portrayed Robin Sparkles. Joanne and Robin couldn’t be more different as musicians let alone characters. The comparisons are going to be inevitable because of the musician angle but please don’t go there. In spite of it all, I feel like there’s a trace of what the actress brought to the the long-running CBS sitcom. Smulders gets the opportunity to sing a total of three songs, including “Free” and “Stranger Things Have Happened.”
While improvised films are certainly a challenge to do well, Alright Now is able to pull it off.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Jamie Adams
CAST: Cobie Smulders, Noel Clarke, Jessica Hynes, Griffin Dunne, Daisy Haggard