It’s one thing to come of age in a time when the college degree you just spent four years pursuing is suddenly no longer the golden standard minimum to get that high paying job your parents always wanted for you, and it’s another thing entirely to completely lack the necessary ambition to do anything with your life after graduating from college. That’s the problem that Morris Bliss, played by Michael C. Hall of Dexter, in Michael Knowles’s The Trouble with Bliss. Morris struggles to find any real direction as an unemployed 30-something living with his widower father (Peter Fonda) while having various misadventures that keep him in a perpetual state of developmental purgatory. The film itself similarly squirms uncomfortably in its skin until Morris has an epiphany, but for the audience there’s no such revelation.
All Morris Bliss wants to do is travel; he has a map on the wall of his childhood room, in which he still resides much to his father’s chagrin, and he’s tagged everywhere he plans to visit. Travel, however, requires money and Morris has none of his own or any real means to make any. Instead, he bums about New York City with his childhood friend NJ (Chris Messina), whose tall tales keep him entertained, and his possibly underage girlfriend (Brie Larson), who also happens to be the daughter of a brutish former high school classmate. That unfortunate connection spells trouble for Morris, but the consequences of the situation might just be the forcible push he needs to re-evaluate his life and move on from odd nights spent with confrontation-crazed women (Lucy Liu).
Thankfully the end of the film gives Morris some resolve to finally move on with his life, but for the audience there’s a definite disconnect between exactly what it was we witnessed and his newfound motivation. Morris is supposed to be 35, and yet something as minor as a fight over a poorly chosen girlfriend is all it takes to wake him from a 13-year slump? It all seems a bit rushed to give this otherwise uneventful story some meaning. Even if the cast and the script perform well, that doesn’t change the fact that the story goes nowhere.
DVD Bonus Features
Deleted scenes and an interview with Michael C. Hall are the only extras.
"The Trouble with Bliss" is on sale January 1, 2013 and is rated PG13. Drama. Directed by Michael Knowles. Written by Michael Knowles, Douglas Light. Starring Brie Larson, Chris Messina, Lucy Liu, Michael C Hall, Peter Fonda.