Though the vast majority of the marketing for Landline would have us believe that Parks and Rec alum Jenny Slate is the star of the show, heavy-hitters Edie Falco and Jon Turturro are the real draw here. Of course, Slate has a natural magnetism and can phase from comedic to dramatic without missing a beat; it's just that she's relatively unseasoned compared to her costars and would have been just as good making way for them in this Gillian Robespierre-directed dramedy.
We follow a Manhattan family in the '90s as both Dana (Slate) and her father (Turturro) deal with the humdrum realities of long-term monogamous relationships. Both indulge in affairs, both are found out, and though their respective partners are ultimately cooler than most folk might be, there is certainly fallout—even if the film glosses over that with either montages or too-short argument scenes that are generally interrupted before a resolution is reached. Newcomer Abby Quinn kills, however, as the youngest daughter, Ali, the perfect representation of a second child grappling with anger, drug experimentation and that sinking feeling that comes with being overshadowed by a more traditionally successful older sibling.
At times funny, at times too heavy-handed, Landline falls into that cinematic middle ground wherein we can't quite tell if it's good or not, we just know we hung around until the very end. Those who grew up in the '90s will enjoy remembering the fashion and hairstyles of the day, while those who came looking for something moving or new will find a couple veteran actors lost in the shuffle of a not-quite-funny-enough movie led by perfectly fine actresses who haven't quite hit gravitas yet.
Falco as the mother is a delight (as always), though, and she absolutely reminds us of our own moms. Turturro, on the other hand, flails with too little to do and a lack of character development. By the end, it boils down to "Oh, you poor white people!" with even the younger sister asking, "How much more vanilla can it get?" Indeed.
+ Falco and Turturro always bring it
- Not enough … anything