There’s something often very charming about a high concept science fiction project done on a small scale. Sci-fi, at its best, is about ideas, far more so than action or special effects. So, when a sci-fi dramedy like I’m Totally Fine tries to do this, you have to respect the attempt. The execution here, however? Well, it’s hardly bad, but it does seem like it’s missing something. There are several moments where you thin the film is about to really kick into gear, but then it never happens. Then, boom, the movie is over, and you’re left wondering just why you’re not as into it as you otherwise should have been.
I’m Totally Fine is…totally fine, and that’s kind of the issue. The premise is begging for a really engaging picture, as opposed to this fairly mellow outing. There’s nothing wrong with it, per say, but you clearly are left wanting more. The set up has such potential, you can’t help but feel a little bit let down by the end.
Vanessa (Jillian Bell) is mourning the loss of her business partner and best friend, Jennifer (Natalie Morales). Needing to clear her head, she ditches her boyfriend and takes a solo trip, planning to for some alone time. A complete mess, she forgets to cancel the party she and Jennifer were planning to celebrate the distribution deal for their natural soda. At her wit’s end, Vanessa suddenly realizes that Jennifer is back. Well, according to her, it’s not Jennifer, but an alien inhabiting her body. They’re studying humans and Vanessa is their next subject. This body is just to put her at ease. Suffice it to say, it initially does not put her at ease.
With Jennifer back, at least in this form, Vanessa is very conflicted. At first, she can’t handle it, but considering how this version of Jennifer has all of her memories, it allows her some extra time with her friend. As they spend a weekend together, Vanessa gets to process the loss, mourning while still getting one last hangout. Where things go, well, it’s not totally unexpected, but it’s a very lo-fi take on sci-fi, to say the least.
Jillian Bell and Natalie Morales are quite solid in their roles, adding layers that might not otherwise be on the page. Bell explores her dramatic chops a bit, while also getting some decent deadpan humor in. The part is a bit underwritten, but she works her magic. The same goes for Morales, who never breaks character, giving an interesting twist to the part. What might have been grating is actually decently charming. The two have good chemistry together, albeit offbeat chemistry. Supporting players here include Blake Anderson, Harvey Guillén, Kyle Newacheck, and more.
Director Brandon Dermer and writer Alisha Ketry never quite find the handle on the material, even if they don’t bungle it in any way. I’m Totally Fine has nuance, but it’s also presented in a fairly flat manner. If not for Bell and Morales, it may well have fallen on completely deaf ears. As it stands, Dermer’s direction and Ketry’s writing are buoyed by their leading ladies, without question.
I’m Totally Fine is worth seeing if you’re interested in the premise, but expectations need to be kept firmly in check. The main reason to check it out if if you’re a fan of Jillian Bell and/or Natalie Morales, as they’re both on point. Everything is decent, but perhaps a level down from what you might be hoping for. At the end of the day, your mileage may vary, so make of that what you will.