It's a little unsurprising why Jeff Anderson' (of Clerks- fame) directorial debut was released theatrically in 2002 but sat on the shelf for four years before receiving a DVD release until 2006. The same year this film was released on DVD, Clerks II, the sequel to the film that put both Anderson and director Kevin Smith on the map was released theatrically. As a writing and directorial debut, Anderson's film plays very similar instruments to that of a Smith film, with long takes involving extensive dialog between characters and random conversations concerning a wide array of topics taking place. To say it matches the quality of what it is inspired by is quite the stretch but to say it adequately works as an intriguing little comedy- drama is an efficient summation.
The film concerns Jeremy (Jeremy Sisto), your typical everyman whose fiancée Kerri (Rashida Jones) has just called off the wedding for undisclosed reasons. Returning home to their homestate of New Jersey, Jeremy and Kerri spend sometime apart, with Jeremy hanging out with his slacker-buds Gil (Jeff Anderson) and Biscuit (Trevor Fehrman) while Kerri hopes to hear rational advice from her newly- expecting friend Marty (Heather Paige Kent).
Gil and Biscuit only pretend to feel for Jeremy's circumstance before too long. They're ecstatic to have their old, untied buddy back who can come with them to pull off cheap "heists" on an poor, innocent neighbor. The two have made a hobby out of breaking and entering into an older man's home at night, rearranging his furniture, family photos, and tables so that, hopefully, he will invest in a home security system manufactured by Gil's good friend. The whole subplot is so asinine and completely out there that it surprisingly warrants quite a few laughs.
The relationship Kerri and Marty share is a more dignified one, predicated off of trust and honor with a dash of silliness. However, the two find themselves in a wacky misunderstanding when Marty decides to take Kerri out to a lesbian bar to take her mind off Jeremy and the opposite sex, which only leads to confusion on Jeremy's behalf when he learns from a friend his ex-fiancée was seen at a lesbian bar with another woman.
Anderson's slowburn technique of giving every scene a moderate amount of dialog is a writing-strategy I never tire of. We spend, on average, anywhere from 80 to 150 with movie characters and, as I've said before, some writers don't even have the interest to give the characters last names let alone personalities. Anderson cares in the regard that he infuses his characters with smartly-written dialog that works thanks to a lack of dependence on senseless ranch and more of a clear emphasis on how the three male friends interact with one another.
Sisto, in particular, is your average leading man, often funny, believable enough to take seriously in his current life- predicament and common enough as an everyman character to relate to in a simplistic sense. Anderson and Fehrman often lend a hand in creating a more lax, much less uptight environment thanks to their natural acting talents of saying something completely ridiculous and finding ways without smiling while doing it. And with two equally strong female leads and a great cameo by Kevin Smith and his wife Jennifer Schwalbach- Smith there's little to complain in regards of the actors.
I suppose the only thing I can really fault Now You Know for is how it drifts and occasionally meanders, sometimes too far past the line of not being funny or sometimes too far past the line of being redundant. With Anderson being a new writer/director and already seemingly pioneering himself after the soul who put him on the map, perhaps that's something to kind of expect. But let it be known that even when Now You Know hits dry patches, it still manages to be more entertaining than many other independent comedy films that either try too hard or are dead-on arrival.
The final thing to note about with Now You Know is its absence of raunchy humor. A large element of many of these kinds of films is the raunch-factor and Anderson employs it conservatively, with great restraint allowing other filmmaking tactics such as writing and character- acting to surface. With Anderson's roots, this is an admirable feat that is one of the many defining reasons why Now You Know succeeds.
Starring: Jeremy Sisto, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Rashida Jones, Heather Paige Kent, Kevin Smith, and Jennifer Schwalbach-Smith.