Brittany Snow, Comedy, J.K. Simmons, Johnny Simmons, Kevin Pollak, Literary adaptation, Maria Bello, Puberty, Review, Romance, Sex, True story
D: Kevin Pollak / 94m
Cast: Johnny Simmons, Brittany Snow, Maria Bello, J.K. Simmons, Kumail Nanjiani, Beck Bennett, Paul Wesley, Blake Cooper, Jane Lynch, Sam Robards
Peter Newmans (Simmons) is essentially a sex therapist, but one with a difference: his job is to convince sexaholics that they should channel their sexual energy into other avenues, such a hobby or work. In essence he’s encouraging his patients to be as celibate as he is. Yes, that’s right, Peter is celibate, and has reached the age of thirty without ever having sex, or even a girlfriend. He’s attracted to his neighbour, would-be chef Michelle (Snow), but she’s already in a relationship, and anyway, he wouldn’t know what to say or do even if she wasn’t. Luckily, Fate steps in when Peter collapses and is rushed to hospital. There he’s told that he has a tumour that has been pressing on his pituitary gland, and this has been the cause of his asexuality. But once the tumour is removed, puberty is going to hit him like a ton of bricks.
And so it proves. Initial attempts by his friends, Rich (Nanjiani) and Luke (Bennett), to get Peter laid don’t work, and it’s not until he wakes up one morning with an erection that Peter finally gets to experience the pleasures of, to begin with, excessive masturbation. It also changes the way he views his work, and he begins to encourage his patients to fully embrace their sexual desires, a change that causes concern for his boss, Caroline (Lynch), who has Peter booked on several publicity spots (he’s written a book on how to avoid “unnecessary” sex). But when Michelle becomes single, Peter’s continued inability to properly express his feelings for it – now thanks to the hormones raging inside him – leads him to alienate her, and also Rich. With only his long-suffering parents (Bello, J.K. Simmons) to turn to, Peter has to find a way of becoming the responsible adult – the man – he would have become if he’d gone through puberty at the right time.
A comedy that wants to be raunchy and sweet at the same time, The Late Bloomer is based on the book, Man-Made: A Memoir of My Body by Ken Baker. So, in essence it’s a true story (Baker did suffer from the same kind of tumour that Peter does), but this is a movie where the approach and the way the material has been handled, will inevitably lead the viewer to wonder if Baker’s experiences have been fairly or even halfway accurately transferred to the screen. Because this is a movie that wavers throughout in its efforts to tell a coherent story. It wants to be a raunchy comedy for the most part, and there are laughs to be had, but this is at odds with the romantic aspects of the material, and the non-existent sympathy for Peter and his situation.
With the movie lacking a clear focus, scenes come and go without any connection to each other, and Simmons is left looking and sounding like a complete doofus. As the movie progresses it becomes clear that the screenplay (assembled by five – count ’em – five screenwriters) and the director are not in sync, and despite several efforts by the cast, are never likely to gel no matter how hard they try. This leaves the movie looking disjointed and poorly assembled. There’s a funny, rewarding, and charming movie to be made out of Baker’s memoir, but this isn’t it.
Rating: 4/10 – a movie that strives to be liked but stumbles at almost every turn in its efforts to do so, The Late Bloomer wastes a ton of potentially humorous situations by ditching subtlety at every opportunity; Pollak’s feature debut as a director, he might be better off choosing any future projects by making sure they have a more polished script, and a better sense of where they’re going (and how to get there).