The Voices review by Richard Chester

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DARK comedies either work or they do not.

The Big Lebowski is a prime example of one that does work. However, The Voices falls in the category of those that fall short.

This genre-hybridity stars Ryan Reynolds as Jerry, a seemingly pleasant though insecure and socially awkward bathtub factory worker with a habit for having hallucinatory conversations with his show-stealing pets, which Reynolds provides the voices to. One is a verbally abusive and sinister cat named Mr Whiskers while the dog, Bosko, is much friendlier and the moral opposite to his companion.

Jerry plucks up the courage to ask new office worker Fiona (Gemma Arterton) on a date. Despite being stood up, he persuades her to let him drive her home.

However his hallucinations get the better of him and in a freak accident, Jerry accidentally kills her. Fearing he is going to be caught, he attempts to dispose of the body, only for his hallucinations to increase, with the literally talking head of Fiona now ‘residing’ in his fridge.

Striking a friendship with Fiona’s co-worker Lisa (Anna Kendrick), Jerry attempts to balance seeking love with living with his hallucinations, unaware of the consequences that are in store as his state of mind threatens to engulf him.

The problems are that the comedic and thriller aspects come across as promising but fail to reach the heights that could have made this an impressive work of Marjane Satrapi, who also directed the entertaining Iranian animated drama Persepolis.

Decisions by the writers regarding where the story is heading from the third act should have been done differently as it does not feel right with the outcomes that laid out. In addition, with the focusing of childhood flashbacks and scenes that depict Jerry having appointments with his psychiatrist (Jacki Weaver), there is an element that the film perhaps is not as original as it should be. If the psychiatrist did not feature in the film, that could have made the film better by instead focusing on a more interesting scenario, rather than the cliche of getting those in the medical profession involved.

There is a small sense of entertainment lying from the verbal sparring that takes place between Mr Whiskers and Bosko but never at one point does the film come across as laugh-out-loud funny. Despite that, the pets are likable enough to the point that one could see an idea of a spin-off film focusing on the two as the main characters actually working.

Reynolds is convincing and manages to hold the performance together by never going over-the-top, although Arterton and Kendrick play their parts with more ease but it feels that their roles could have been played the same way by any of their fellow contemporaries.

The Voices is not good as a comedy and the dark themes come across as too repetitive which makes one interesting element be replaced by one that is not on the same level. There is a sense of intrigue though as to what lies ahead for various characters and the film is not a bad film, but given its premise, this should have been much better.