Comedy Releases: I've Got Issues (2019) - Reviewed

The tagline/ synopsis for I’ve Got Issues is a one-liner, saying ‘A comedy about despair and what to do with it’, perfectly summing up the lack of interest this collection of sketches impose. 

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. The film is about our daily tribulations in society and the lackluster paradigm within which we are caught repeating the same behaviorisms, but to call it comedy is an arrogant reach at best.

Thank the gods that comedy is subjective, because I’ve Got Issues really tests the boundaries of comedic tolerance if only out of pity, while to others it might be a scream. Written and directed by Steve Collins, the 90-minute runtime is divided up in a plethora of loosely related sketches that lends a peek into somewhat relatable issues we struggle with on a daily basis, utilizing the same actors in different roles each time. If only it was Monty Python, but it is not half as funny or entertaining.

Jim Gaffigan narrates the film - about the state of human-ness, what it means to be us and the banality of our daily existence. As a truly funny man and professional comedian, he should have been asked to consult on the humor aspect of the film. It would have at least brought some valid observational comedy to the table, but alas, we are stuck with endless portrayals of mundane scenarios that trudge along with dismal dialogue.

That is surely the point of the film, expertly delivered to our already fragile boredom, but the funny falls short, leaving you with a distinct desire to slit your pulses instead of laughing about it. In fact, let me retract that statement, I’ve Got Issues actually gives us a reason to smile once it is finished, because only then can we truly appreciate our individual trials and melancholy that suddenly looks upbeat, positive and hopeful compared to sitting through this long-winded feature. Maybe that was the idea all along? Maybe the idea was to show that one can always find a nugget of cheer even while nestled in a pot of manure, maybe one chuckle in a full length feature made by a director known for short films.

The deliberately cheap score and static camera frames keeps I’ve Got Issues as drab as possible to make sure we pay attention to the dry dialogue, all pivotal to the film’s setting and atmosphere.

What the film does efficiently is the use of setting. Sets are pallid, drab and void of any pleasing stimuli which is a great trigger for its message. Most of the short scenarios are basting in awkward comedy the likes of The Office and After Life, but without any of the genius metaphor or commentary clout. I’ve Got Issues pushes too hard and ends up irritating rather than effectively addressing the existential crisis trope of this genre. 

What gives it some redemption, though, is the artsy aspect of the observations which does ignite some form of questioning about our lives. Maybe if it just admitted to being dramatic, the film would have hit solid instead of imitating flaccid humor that insults the narrative. Still, it is way too long and tedious for such a dreary feature. Let’s hope comedy taste differs vastly enough for some to find I’ve Got Issues interesting, even genius. Some will not.

--Tasha Danzig