Never has the tension between boot camps and bohemia been so evident as in Andrew Bujalski’s new film, Results, which screened at SXSW this week.
Bujalski, an Austin-based godfather of mumblecore, was described by Marc Spitz, in Twee, as “a modern, intellectual wallflower, with shaggy hair, big glasses, and inherent shyness.” His last movie was Computer Chess, about nerds engrossed in an ’80s electronic chess tournament. So what would make this master of extemporaneous dialogue plumb the sweaty, spandexy world of burpees and butt squats?
The way Bujalski told it during a Q&A at the Alamo Ritz, the whole movie started with Williamsburg regular Kevin Corrigan, who plays Danny, a dour, pudgy middle-aged layabout who suddenly becomes rich due to an inheritance and decides to hire a personal trainer. It’s the meatiest role Corrigan has had in a while, even if it mostly involves eating entire pizzas in his underwear and listlessly strumming a guitar while bumming out about a recent divorce.
“While maybe not the most brilliant idea I’ve had commercially,” Bujalski told the audience at the Alamo Ritz, “Kevin Corrigan is an actor I’ve admired for 20 years. He did a movie 20 years ago called Walking and Talking which knocked me out of my seat. I remember seeing that and sitting in the theater waiting for the credits to roll and being like, I gotta find out that guy’s name because he’s my favorite actor.”
Bujalski decided to pair him with Guy Pearce after having a breakfast with Pearce about another project. “He obviously gravitates toward deep, dark intense stuff,” Bujalski said of the Aussie dreamboat, “and I don’t know why I thought there’s a romantic comedy in that guy, too, and I think I can get it. It just made me laugh. And at that point I’m thinking Kevin Corrigan, Guy Pearce — what on earth would be the movie that could contain the two of them?”
Pearce does a fine job playing Trevor, a buff, aspiring fitness guru who comes off like a human infomercial as he seeks to expand his Austin gym. He’ll have to learn to loosen up and get in touch with his feelings if he’s going to make it work with Kat (Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother), the employee he’s been having a fling with. (Danny, who hires Kat as a trainer, also has a crush on her.)
If this sounds like rom com territory, rest assured Results isn’t your conventional boy-meets-girl story, mostly because Danny’s quest to get in shape and latch on to some version of happiness makes for a compelling side story. But make no mistake: this is not a mumblefest along the lines of Bujalski’s previous films (Mutual Appreciation, Funny Haha, etc.). It’s clear the director is going for the sort of crossover success his mumblecore colleague Joe Swanburg achieved with Drinking Buddies.
“My last movie, Computer Chess, is about as experimental and avant garde, it’s about as weird a thing as I can imagine getting away with in this lifetime and it was so much fun to do,” Bujalski said last night. “This one, of course, is much more polished and designed, with the idea of maybe people will pay money to see it.”
After all, Bujalski pointed out, he’s got children to feed. And his newest kid is the reason he pulled a Danny and stopped his momentary dalliance with working out. “For about a year before we shot this, I worked out,” he said. “That’s the only way I’m ever going to justify going to the gym is to say it’s research. And it works, a little bit. But I had another baby and stopped going to the gym so now I’ve got chocolate cake results.”