‘Results’: They may vary

May 27, 2015

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We live in a media culture which constantly insists that we should look and feel better than we do. We try to mimic the images we see, but it’s an impossible task.

Obviously, you can never reach your ideal; no one is ever exactly the way they think they should be. Show me a perfectly chiseled bodybuilder and I’ll show you someone who can instantly pinpoint their own problem areas.

Andrew Bujalski’s “Results” is a surprising little romantic comedy that never goes where you expect, even as it creates a story built on a triad of characters striving to be better – in some way. As Bujalski seems well aware, there’s who you think you want to be – and who you really are. The distance between those two points is where things get interesting.

The story focuses on Trevor (Guy Pearce) and Kat (Cobie Smulders). Trevor, an Australian, owns a gym in Austin, Texas, called Power 4 Life – and when he starts explaining what the “4” stands for, step back: He’s well-launched into his pitch about expanding from a single gym to a chain that would make him the Jack LaLanne of mind/body/spirit fusion.

Kat is one of his most popular trainers but a bit of a head case: She’s got a quick temper, particularly when it comes to clients who decide to stop training. She and Trevor are kind of a couple, though he’s so involved with his business plans and his own training regimen that Kat assumes he wants to keep things casual. Which also sets her off.

The story’s catalyst is Danny (Kevin Corrigan), a walk-in to the gym who wants to learn “to take a punch.” Danny is the wild card: nouveau riche, recently divorced, at extremely loose ends. He’s unself-conscious enough that, when Kat (his newly hired trainer) tells him to keep a food diary “or just take a picture with your phone of what you eat and send it to me,” Danny orders a pizza, then sends her selfies with individual slices (and occasionally groupings of slices).

Rather than push these characters into collisions that result in raucous or cathartic moments, Bujalski draws his laughs and his insights elsewhere. He plays out scenes of these characters in ones and twos: the slightly unhinged Danny banging away on an electric guitar while roaming the massive empty mansion he’s rented after an impulse move to Austin; Trevor casually giving a work-out performance with impressively muscular displays while talking out a problem; a jogging Kat, who recognizes a deadbeat client and chases her down on foot to confront her about it as the woman drives the carpool to school. These characters clash, they couple, they confront – but ultimately, growth and improvement are individual pursuits (along with figuring things out).

An inadvertent founder of what became “mumblecore,” Bujalski gives his actors tasty dialogue that dips and darts, even as it is spoken by characters who have sharp points to make with each other. Described in brief, the story sounds like it consists of conventional elements, but Bujalski has found a way to tweak each one and make it unique.

His cast – the earnest Pearce, the volatile Smulders, the unpredictable Corrigan – give it their own spin, making “Results” a sly little wonder of a film that may end up flying under the radar.

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