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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'On The Count Of Three' Review: Jerrod Carmichael & Christopher Abbott Make A Pact

Christopher Abbott and Jerrod Carmichael looking confused
United Artists Releasing

Cut this review in six pieces, this is my last request. Okay, it's not the last request because there are dozens to come still this year, even after On The Count Of Three. Known mostly for his stand-up previously, Jerrod Carmichael makes his feature directorial debut with the black comedy that takes the last-day-on-Earth concept to darker parts of a human mind. Carmichael also stars as Val who ends up quitting his job and making a double suicide pact with his best friend Kevin (Christopher Abbott), after breaking him out of a mental institute, of course. They decide to not do it immediately and instead plan to make something out of their last day; including murdering someone who molested Kevin as a child, getting money from Val's estranged father and riding dirt bikes as friends do.

It's probably not a stretch to assume that Carmichael's career in comedy is why a film like ''Three'' seemed suitable for him to land in the chair for the very first time. There's a tricky balancing act going on in it in terms of tone and subject matter, and how those two cross paths. Screenplay by Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch is very much in line with their work on 'Ramy' series, providing darkly funny lines while also making points about the environment characters find themselves in. Great thing is that there aren't just lines that stick out but that the delivery further accentuates them, Carmichael clearly giving space for himself and Abbott to take necessary breaks without feeling the need to cut scenes to death just to make everything fit in the ''comedy box''.

Abbott portrays the jittery and lost nature of Kevin in a very surprising way as well, breaking out from the more mannered presence that I've certainly seen him do in previous projects, Carmichael's Val on the other hand is slightly more conventional on the screen but that juxtaposition is what gives the first act enough spark to delve into the material itself. Some small missteps in that sense are present though—perhaps because of limitations that led the film be slim 85 minutes—as character background are quite shallow considering that there's an exploration of suicidal tendencies and role that professional psychiatric help plays in that. This is why fleeting faces, like characters played by Tiffany Haddish, Henry Winkler and J.B. Smoove, don't feel as tactile as Kevin and Val or their hesitations about their pact.

Smileys: Dialogue, Christopher Abbott

Frowneys: Characterisation

Dirt biking and cry-y-ing.


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