'Aardvark' Is As Schizophrenic As Its Lead Character

By James Jay Edwards
Released: April 13, 2018
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Synopsis
The aardvark has evolved to be one of a kind. You could say the same of Josh Norman.

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Film Review
Production
Aardvark is about a schizophrenic man named Josh Norman (Zachary Quinto, better known as Spock from the Star Trek reboots) who goes to see a therapist named Emily Milburton (Obvious Child's Jenny Slate). Josh claims to see his brother, a famous actor named Craig (Jon Hamm from "Mad Men" and Baby Driver), everywhere, thinking that he is practicing his craft and wearing disguises whenever he approaches him. When Craig shows up, he tracks down Emily, and the two start dating, which may be too much for Josh's fragile mind to take.

Aardvark, courtesy Before The Door Pictures.


Written and directed by Brian Shoaf (Hamsters), Aardvark is a strange movie. There's not a whole lot that happens, but it's still a fascinating character study of a handful of damaged people. Quinto's Josh Norman is the epitome of the unreliable narrator, seemingly having a very loose grip on reality and holding conversations with bag ladies and police officers whom he thinks are his brother "acting" for him. Nothing of what he says, to either Emily or the audience, can be trusted, but deep down, he believes it all to be true. He wanders to streets at night, meeting women and picking fights, but how much of it is really happening? Neither the audience nor the other characters can be sure.

All of this is okay, because Slate's Emily is the worst therapist ever. She immediately (and insecurely) hops into bed with her patient's brother right after meeting him, and while still doubting if any of what Josh has told her about him is true or not. That's a curious therapist-patient relationship.

Aardvark, courtesy Before The Door Pictures.


The most genuine character in the film is one that may or may not even exist. Josh meets a woman named Hannah (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night's Sheila Vand) with whom he shares his midnight strolls, but like everything else in his life, the viewer can never be sure how much of her is in his mind and how much of her is real. The same question could be applied to his brother Craig, except for the fact that Emily interacts with him, but maybe that means she's unreliable, too?

Ok, now we're starting to ramble incoherently, but that's fine. Aardvark is a ramble-incoherently kind of movie. It's just as schizophrenic as its lead character.

Aardvark, courtesy Before The Door Pictures.


Aardvark is not a bad movie. It has moments that are haunting, emotional, and uplifting. But it's not a good movie, either. It's a puzzle that's never quite solved. So, in a way, Aardvark is the worst thing a movie can be: neither bad nor good, just kind of there.
Acting
The acting in Aardvark is a mixed bag. Zachary Quinto is magnificent as the tortured Josh. He really sells the stubborn lack of confidence that comes with his character, and does it without using his perceived mental illness as a crutch. Jon Hamm is, well, Jon Hamm; he seems to be playing a version of himself, so he's incredibly comfortable in his role. Sheila Vand is charming, but way underutilized, but that probably comes with the territory if you're playing a character who may not exist. It's great to see Jenny Slate in a non-comedic (and live-action) role, but she doesn't quite pull it off as effectively as the other cast members. So, to summarize, the performances in Aardvark are just as inconsistent as the movie itself.

Aardvark, courtesy Before The Door Pictures.



Genre
Drama
Release Date
April 13, 2018
MPAA Rating
PG-13
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