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“Supporting Characters”: “Girls” With Boys

January 25, 2013

If you’re like me (and, based on the ratings, shockingly few other people), you can’t get enough of Girls, Lena Dunham’s Golden Globe-winning comedy. But if once a week doesn’t satisfy you, you can supplement it with Supporting Characters, a delightfully deadpan new indie starring Alex Karpovsky, aka Ray on Girls, and featuring a funny cameo from Ms. Dunham. In case you’re wondering, yes, she does keep her clothes on.

Like the soon-to-be-released Red Flag, another Karpovsky vehicle (which he actually wrote and directed himself), Supporting Characters is available on Video on Demand as well as in limited theatrical release, starting today. Cowritten by CollegeHumor grad and costar Tarik Lowe, it casts Karpovsky as another indie filmmaker—this time, not named Alex Karpovsky—an editor who’s collaborating with his BFF (Lowe) on a doomed comedy about a dog walker. Both men experience romantic travails, and Karpovsky once again proves he’s the king of the awkward makeout scene, but at heart, the movie is a true bromance. Karpovsky and Lowe squabble like an old married couple but genuinely care for each other, and their mutual affection is infectious.

As an actor, Karpovsky hasn’t shown much range yet; this character seems slightly less narcissistic than “Alex Karpovsky” and less sociopathic than  Ray, but they could all be the same guy in different stages of their romantic and professional lives. But he’s developing a real screen persona; he’s often cringe-inducing yet somehow endearing, like a goony, gangly Woody Allen. And he plays off women beautifully, whether it’s Girls‘ Zosia Mamet or 90210 alum Arielle Kebbel here as the film-within-the-film’s flirtatious starlet, who drives a wedge between Karpovsky’s Nick and his fianceé, beguilingly played by Sophia Takal (another real-life indie auteur).

Girls, Red Flag and Supporting Characters (cowritten and directed by Daniel Schechter, who’ll soon collaborate with Jennifer Aniston, Isla Fisher and the great John Hawkes on an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s The Switch) seem to indicate a new school of comedy—shaggy, messy, yet bursting with heart. It’s not navel-gaving mumblecore stuff like the Duplass brothers produce (see Jeff, Who Lives at Home, or better yet, don’t), but rather something fresh and alive. If these struggling artists whose lives are as hilariously complicated as their careers are hopelessly stuck in neutral are the world’s Supporting Characters, you can have all the movie stars.

Are you into Girls and its gifted ensemble? Post a comment!

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