Movie Review: Landline

Landline Roger Ebert Jenny Slate

Between the popularity of Throwback Thursdays and the Timehop app, the appeal of nostalgia in the media is going strong. So when I found out Jenny Slate is starring in a new movie about a dysfunctional family set in 1995, I was sold. I loved watching her in Obvious Child and I was ready for more laughs from the Jewish comedian in Landline.

Personally, I find characters that work in advertising more likeable, but there’s no excuse for Ali (Abby Quin) and Dana’s (Jenny Slate) cheating dad (John Turturro). I don’t care if he’s a superstar at McCann Erickson. He’s a scumbag. Ali reveals his infidelity to Dana after finding her dad’s love letters to his mistress on a floppy disk labelled as Ali’s schoolwork. Their reactions then become the focal point of the movie.

Landline Movie Jenny Slate Phone

And Dana’s behaviour isn’t much better. I’m a sucker for watching characters like Dana do impromptu solo dances, but it goes downhill once her male friend catches her in the act at a CD store. After using a payphone to call in sick to work, she ends up betraying her fiancé.

Just as her father’s occupation didn’t make me like him, it didn’t matter to me that Dana has a cool job working on layout at PAPER Magazine. Yes, the one that Kim Kardashian posed for in real life before she broke the internet.

Ali doesn’t do anything too crazy for a teenager in New York except for party and experiment with drugs. It’s funny to watch her hide a change of clothes for clubbing in the hallway outside her family’s apartment.

No matter how much 90s technology Landline included to make the setting seem more authentic and entertaining, it’s hard to forgive the main characters for their behaviour. Sure, it’s cute to see Dana and Ali have a grown up slumber party at their parents’ country home, but their rebellious ways are hard to ignore.

Jenny Slate and Abby Quinn appear in Landline by Gillian Robespierre, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Jojo Whilden.

As far as the film’s fashion is concerned, it’s as plain and basic as I remember the 90s. The credits gave shout outs to Reebok and Levi’s, which are both brands that you could shop today to achieve the characters’ classic looks. In one of the last scenes, they make a joke about overalls becoming a silly trend. I never figured out that one!

This is a great quirky movie to see whenever you want to relive the 90s. It was a simpler time. There aren’t any scenes of characters texting each other (usually I like seeing that, but it was super creepy in Personal Shopper). The only obviously trashy part of Landline is the Halloween costumes Dana and Ali wear. They put on garbage bags to dress up as raisins and Dana’s fiancé Ben (Jay Duplass) dressed as the box to complete the set. A lot of movies that came out in the mid-late 90s remain among my favourites, and this one has some of those same elements from the perspective of a modern cast and crew.

Favourite Quotes:

  • “You’re such an irritant; you’re like the piece of toilet paper stuck to someone’s shoe.”
  • “Did you hear my stomach growling? It was like another character [in the play].”
  • “If you bring this much cash to school, you don’t really need it.”


Photo Sources: Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, Jojo Whilden

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