Andrew Bujalski’s entrance into the world of professional actors and state-of-the-art digital cameras happily keeps the distinguishing characteristics of America’s most idiosyncratic lo-fi auteur intact. Results is unmistakably a Bujalski film—the fifth for the 37-year-old filmmaker—but it’s a little bit funnier, a lot prettier, and slightly more adult than the others. Set in the sun-kissed, sorbet-colored environs of Austin, Texas, it’s a triangulated, stoner rom-com that’s totally unpredictable moment to moment even though, as far as the plot is concerned, it goes nowhere. Incidents abound, development is almost non-existent. It’s a lot like life, in that way, but distilled and off-kilter.
Bujalski had the talents of Kevin Corrigan and Guy Pearce in mind when he wrote the script. The third element, Cobie Smulders, came later. They are perfect, separately and together. Corrigan plays Danny, a lonely, depressed, recently divorced transplant from the Bronx, who has inherited a bundle from the mother he hadn’t spoken to in decades. Now his only regret is his ex-wife’s poor timing—she won’t get to share his new wealth. Danny delivers this backstory in about a minute, but the effect is to make you feel as if he’s been hanging out in your apartment all your life. With no idea at all about what he wants now that he’s single and rich, Danny rents a McMansion and enrolls at the Power 4 Life gym, which is owned by Trevor (Pearce), an Australian expat with big-time health-guru ambitions. Danny wants private sessions at home, and Kat (Smulders), the gym’s most popular trainer, demands the gig, although Trevor claims to be concerned that Danny might be a pervert. Which of course he is, but only in the sense of, well, who isn’t? Kat and Trevor have a history of getting into each other’s gym shorts—the kind of casual sex that two physically gorgeous, sweaty, competitive people engage in when they find themselves together in an empty gym at closing time. In other words: Trevor and Kat are made for each other and Danny is headed for heartbreak if he falls for her, which of course he does.
While Pearce and Smulders are terrific, Results belongs to Corrigan, who, after two decades as a supporting actor, finally has the role of a lifetime. Danny is pudgy with thinning limp hair and the face of a bulldog who’s puzzling over the location of a recently buried bone. In a movie that generates sight gags at every turn, he makes you laugh by doing almost nothing except letting his inadequacies and insecurities hang out, literally and figuratively. Instructed by Kat to photograph everything he eats, he obediently sends her a close-up of a slice of pizza balanced on his bulging belly. And then another, and another. The humor is in Danny’s framing of the photos, just as the majority of the sight gags throughout depend on the way Bujalski and his longtime cinematographer Matthias Grunsky deploy the widescreen format so that an angle, a movement, or simply the duration of a shot is always surprising. The jokes always land, although never quite where you expect them too.
There is such sweetness in Danny’s infatuation with Kat that she momentarily succumbs, her affections stirred by a few tokes of his choice weed. Thrilled that he’s rich enough to order up anything and everything online—a famous chef to prepare a gourmet feast for two in his house and a live dance band to serenade his beloved—Danny comes on too strong for the emotionally skittish Kat and blows the relationship when it’s barely begun. The film then takes multiple shaggy-dog twists and turns before winding up back at Danny’s house, partying to the same music. What have we learned? That people in their thirties are just muddling along exactly as they did in their twenties. And that Kevin Corrigan, or rather Danny, can boogie down just beautifully.