Will Reading (2020)

Director Jamie Insalaco’s movie has a lot going for it as a comedy about adults relying on one big score to adjust their lives once again. But once everything came to a close, “Will Reading” ends up being a cinematic experience that’s hindered by so many of its flaws, in spite of so much it brings to the table. I wouldn’t say that I’d recommend it, but if you’re in the market for a movie that feels like a zany send up of “The Big Chill.”

Wendy is preparing to host an evening at her home for friends, during which they will read an addendum to her recently deceased husband’s will. Her husband’s twin brother, his college roommate and friends all attend to find out exactly what Will left them in his… will.  Is there enough to change their fortunes?  Can they learn to work together as friends?  The very idea of money changes everything. Jamie Insalaco’s “Will Reading” makes a big to do about a movie that’s basically just an ensemble comedy about a group of people at the crossroads of their lives.

Rather than play it for melodrama, Insalaco opts instead for a heavily comedic tone, exploring how these weird individuals react to the idea of being given immense wealth by their friend, and how they might fix, or further destroy, their lives. “Will Reading” often feels like a stage play, which can distract from the attempted realism of the narrative most times, especially as the cast spend their time miming eating, and drinking. Everything on set feels so artificial that it was tough to really lose myself in to the narrative. That said, the movie is stolen by Katie Weigl, whose performance is complex and very funny.

She’s a character stuck between a rock and a hard place as she’s desperate for financial relief, but has to keep up the show of grief stricken widow most of the time. The rest of the cast, sadly, seems to be going for scenery chewing most of the time, but thankfully that never really hinders the film’s momentum. The movies veers off in to so many directions including a clumsy musical number, and sadly so much of the emotional weight behind Will’s death is lost. The story also doesn’t seem to know where to go once the big development occurs in the finale, prompting writer Insalaco to simply end the movie with a ton of unresolved plot lines and lingering questions. “Will Reading” is a perfectly fine comedy. It’s teeming with potential and does manage to push ahead a good performance or two and some creative ideas, it’s just bogged down by massive tonal inconsistencies, and plot questions.