The last line of Results is a defensive “I’m not a douchebag.” This is hardly even a hint of a spoiler, though—in this Andrew Bujalski joint, equal-opportunity douchebaggery abounds.
But Bujalski seems to revel in the hard-to-like. Some film writers and fans have called his movies “natural” or “realistic”; indeed, Bujalski’s the one who casually coined the term “mumblecore” a decade ago to describe his style and the similar works of young filmmakers like the Duplass brothers. If mumblecore, of which Results is a more polished and star-studded example, reflects reality to those who embrace it, let’s just say they might want to get new friends.
Results shares little in common with Bujalski’s earlier films, like 2002’s Funny Ha Ha, whose script was dominated by “like”s, “uh”s, and ennui. (Actually, ennui floods this one, too.) But the film’s most obvious commonality to Bujalski’s repertoire is its collection of dicks, perhaps most succinctly summed in a stranger’s remark after she sees Austin-based personal trainers Kat (Cobie Smulders) and Trevor (Guy Pearce, allowed to be Australian for once) bickering: “You really do sound married.” That’s not meant as a compliment.
From the beginning, we know that Kat is a caustic woman, the kind of trainer who spies a client with a cupcake and outruns that client’s SUV so she can not only food-shame her in front of her child, but add that she’s behind on her payments. When Kat arrives at the gym, more fury: Trevor has assigned an odd, schlumpy walk-in, Danny (Kevin Corrigan), to another trainer. Kat blows up. Trevor fights back—a bit more maturely—but even though he’s the gym’s founder, it’s apparent that he’s pushed around by his employee.
Danny is aimless in both his fitness goals and his life, telling Trevor he wants to be able to “take a punch” and later wandering around a palatial, museum-cold house alone. He’s freshly divorced and new money, apparently rich enough to toss around Benjamins whenever he wants company or someone to make his TV setup work. Kat, naturally, persuades Trevor to let her be Danny’s trainer. Danny, naturally, falls for Kat.
Maybe that’s because one of the first exercises they work on is squats. Kat shows him how to “lead with his butt” and asks questions like “Can you see my form? How everything’s tight?” Another day, they get a little loose together, but she freaks and belittles Danny when he makes a big romantic gesture. “How fucking stupid are you?” she screams before shoving him. He might ask his smartass object of affection the same.
There’s a lot of stupidity in Results. Kat’s lead-him-on thing takes the proverbial cupcake, but Trevor and Danny have their own forehead-smacking moments. (One of the very, very few funny scenes involves the “O” face of a real-estate agent Trevor briefly tangos with.) You might also question the point of a montage showing Danny and Trevor separately working out, which reveals nothing besides Pearce’s exceptional strength.
The script also breezes over the details that bring about important plot turns—so if you’re puzzled afterward, particularly about Trevor’s eventual partners in his business expansion, no, you didn’t miss anything.
Primarily, Results is about lonely, lonely people. Danny, Trevor, and Kat are all shown wallowing in melancholy in their downtime, especially Kat, who mopes while overhearing her roommate having sex in one scene, and soon shuffles out of frame. Curiously, the film ends up telling the story of a love triangle, though why both dudes would be attracted to a woman whose pores ooze more anger than sweat is an unanswered mystery. After a film spends 105 minutes trafficking in awkwardness, rage, arbitrary developments, and misguided behavior, you can’t just tack a fun song at the end and call it a romantic comedy.
Results opens June 5 at E Street Cinema.