Going into Band Aid, I had two assumptions: that the movie might have something to do with a music groupie (based purely on the use of the term for that purpose in Almost Famous), and that with a name like Zoe Lister-Jones, the film’s writer, director, and star must certainly be British. Neither turned out to be the case.
Jones plays Anna, a thirtysomething woman who was expected to be a great writer. She had a book deal all lined up before things fell apart, so now she drives for a ridesharing service. She’s married to Ben (Adam Pally), who was himself a promising artist, but now makes a living designing corporate logos, and trying to do as little of that as possible. They tried to have a baby a couple of years ago, but Anna had a miscarriage, and that really didn’t help their relationship. Things really aren’t going well for them, and their counseling sessions don’t seem to help.
It also doesn’t help that all of their friends do have children and that Anna and Ben get invited to a lot of their birthday parties. One such party has a musical theme and features toddler karaoke, and Anna and Ben improvise a performance. They enjoy themselves and decide to start a band and use their fights as the inspiration for their songs. Their sex-addicted next-door neighbor (Fred Armisen) helps them out on the drums as they try working out their relationship problems through music.
When the movie is focused on their music, it’s actually pretty good. The songs are funny, and they’re much more likable people when their arguments are set to music. The only problem is that the movie doesn’t focus nearly enough on the music. It’s got a good, solid idea to work from, but it instead chooses to be a pretty run-of-the-mill struggling relationship drama with loser characters who are mostly into weed and self-pity. I think that it’s trying to be a comedy, but there’s nothing funny about it except for the too-infrequent songs. They try to mine Armisen’s character’s sex addiction (with assistance from Jamie Chung and Erinn Hayes), but that falls flat every time. The occasional cameos don’t help, either, and they mostly just come off as desperate.
Like its characters, Band Aid is just a lot of squandered potential. In many ways, it feels like a weaker version of Ricki and the Flash, and we already have enough of those kinds of movies.