Derivative yet weirdly resistant to dismissal, Scott Prendergast’s Kabluey is an unclassifiable head-scratcher. The former Groundlings comedy-troupe member assembles an assortment of unappealing characters, an exhausted setup (spiritual emptiness in McMansion land,
ho-hum) and every conceivable anxiety-inducer known to late-’00s Americans—joblessness, war, credit-card debt, menial labor, economic turmoil, live offspring—to pull off what may be the best evocation of contemporary alienation in a movie so far this year.
Kabluey starts unpromisingly enough: Suburban mom Leslie (Kudrow) drafts meek, mouth-breathing bro-in-law Salman (Prendergast) to help with her devil spawn (the uncanny Wofford and Henninger) after her soldier hubby’s Iraq tour is extended. She lands the chronically unemployed Salman a gig handing out flyers in a blue, dome-headed corporate-mascot getup, the anonymity of which brings out the semiresponsible adult in him and facilitates a bond with his heretofore surly surrogate family.
The movie’s as pat as it sounds in broad strokes, and its ’90s snark-com visual and narrative blandness grates at first. But between Kudrow’s austere, heartbroken slapstick and Prendergast’s daringly oblique comedic take on the Bush-era domestic nightmare, Kabluey achieves something more-accomplished films only strive for—a space all its own.