A charming little rom-com that strays from the norm is almost always must-see material, and Fully Realized Humans fits the bill perfectly. As a horror fan, it’s hard to miss the genre vets: Joshua Leonard, who stars in addition to directing, writing, producing, and editing, hails from 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, while his co-star Jess Weixler had vaginal teeth in 2007’s Teeth. Leonard and Weixler play surprisingly self-aware Elliot and Jackie, who are expecting a baby, despite their friends scaring them to death. “I saw a man deteriorate in front of my eyes,” one friend says about his dad, who he claimed had an amazing car and vinyl collection before the babies. Elliot and Jackie note that therapy has made them “aware”, but hasn’t actually “reshaped” their behavior. On the cusp of their first child’s birth, the duo challenge each other to change, and to become “fully realized humans” (title drop!) in 4 weeks or less!
Punctuated with sketches that convey character mood, they are often darkly funny in their simplicity. The situational humor and the blunt attitudes of the our leads are cause for some of the biggest laughs. They have meltdowns over car seats. I could tell the kind of playful and cutesy direction we were headed when early on. The couple started making suggestions for things they could accomplish: Elliot ponders a pole-dancing class, while Jackie deadpans that “I could fuck you in the ass.” The two of them deciding it would be a transformative experience for Jackie to quite literally penetrate Elliot drives the breezy narrative into amusing directions. Elliot and Jackie shopping for dildos, while the person helping them doesn’t realize it will be for Elliot, stands mighty as the funniest sequence. Revelations and personal progress fails to feel revolutionary, but I did really enjoy seeing Elliot try to use an opportunity to make things right with his parents, and how they’ve affected him over the years. It’s like a subdued, modern Meet the Parents in the final act.
Fully Realized Humans takes two flawed characters and shapes them into a duo we actually care about. Jess Weixler plays off Leonard’s energy in a natural way, with the two chatting up biting dialogue and intimate moments with ease. Joshua Leonard’s film subverts expectations, and the movie endures as a special and specific brand of independent cinema. Sensitive, cute, simple, and short—Fully Realized Humans is, at least, fully realized as a comedy.
Fully Realized Humans screened at the virtual Calgary Underground Film Festival, April 23rd – May 2nd.