Film Critic

Chuck Koplinski is The News-Gazette's film critic. His email is chuckkoplinski@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter (@ckoplinski).

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It’s not that I hated Nikole Beckwith’s film, but man, did it irritate me.

Like a slow drag of fingernails across a chalkboard, “Together, Together” is a long slog to nowhere with one of the most aggravating passive-aggressive characters you’re likely to meet.

And while the protagonist is unappealing, the script is a collection of scenes that go nowhere, jokes that don’t land and “poignant” moments that fail to move us.

Matt (Ed Helms) is a single guy in his 40s who longs to be a father and hires a surrogate. That poor soul would be Anna (Patti Harrison), a woman who just wants to make a quick buck.

The relationship that develops does not go down the expected road, and while Beckwith should be commended for steering away from that, her script’s lack of energy dooms it in the end.

There’s little chemistry between the leads and a sense of laziness to certain aspects. (A gay best friend co-worker at a coffee shop? Please …) Calling this as bland as white paint would be an insult to the paint.

The jokes on Matt and Anna’s differing views of child-rearing are far too safe, and Matt is such an overbearing jerk, you can tell why he’s single. Helms is doing a variation on his Andy Bernard character from “The Office,” but as a semi-stalker.

Once Anna becomes pregnant, the extent to which Matt ingratiates himself into her life prompts the viewer to lose whatever modicum of sympathy they may have had for him.

Though he insists he’s “pro-choice everything,” his actions belie this as he makes her alter her diet, wear certain shoes and refrain from sex.

Compound this with the facts that he can’t make a decision to save his life and is constantly asking Anna if she’s all right, and it makes him a character we simply can’t relate to, let alone hope for.

Harrison, however, does grow on you, her character developing in an interesting manner.

The pregnancy affects Anna in ways she does not anticipate, causing her to grow emotionally.

A baby-shower scene in which she observes Matt opening presents yet feels like an outsider is especially poignant, the actress conveying volumes with simple movements. But that’s far too little to maintain any interest in this exercise in tedium.

We limp to the ending, which proves to be a cop-out, as major issues are left unresolved. Beckwith seems to be using ambiguity that’s meant to be profound, but don’t buy it — there’s nothing arty about the final scene.

It’s nothing more than an example of what happens when a writer paints herself into a corner and can’t find a way out.

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