By ABBIE BERNSTEIN / Staff Writer
Posted: September 23, 2022 / 06:03 am
Stars: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Sydney Chandler, Kate Berlant, Nick Kroll, Timothy Simons
Writer: Katie Silberman, story of Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke and Katie Silberman Director: Olivia Wilde
Distributor: Warner Bros./New Line
Release date: September 23, 2022
DO NOT WORRY HONEY is directed by Olivia Wilde and written by Katie Silberman from a story Silberman came up with Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke. As it progresses, what happens may remind viewers of several other specific movies, one so much so that it feels like it should be credited here in some way. That would give the game away, so we won’t say the title here (we’ll just mention that it’s itself based on a novel and has two big-screen versions).
In fact, it is difficult to describe much of the plot of DO NOT WORRY HONEY without spoiling it. Here is the configuration. It’s the 1950s. We meet Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh) and her husband Jack (Harry Styles). They love each other and have a very active sex life. They live in the idyllic, isolated bedroom community of Victory, on a cul-de-sac full of married couples (a little more racially diverse than you might expect in this era). Every morning, the men drive out of the cul-de-sac in their beautiful and assorted 1950s cars and head to their jobs at the mysterious Victory Corporation.
The women stay behind, cooking, cleaning, drinking, gossiping and shopping. We don’t know much about the Victory Corporation, except that the men aren’t allowed to talk about their work. Frank (Chris Pine) is the head of the corporation. He and his wife, Shelley (Mia Chan), enjoy the adoration of the town. Frank loves making big sweeping speeches about how it takes courage to go after what you want, that Victory represents order in a sea of social chaos, etc. Everyone seems very happy, except for Margaret (KiKi Layne), who is married to Peter (Asif Ali). Margaret insists that something is wrong. Alice doesn’t believe him. But then Alice sees some things that make her start asking questions.
Wilde is a strong director, with a compelling visual sense. Pugh provides a center of gravity and never misses a step. Director and performer between them make DO NOT WORRY HONEY highly watchable, even as the third act turns into a giant ball of exposition. This is where the suspension of belief begins to break down. Filmmakers are selective about what they want to explain. On the one hand, we can understand why they don’t want to spend more time on something that bogs down the action. On the other hand, this is a case where if they’re going to go as far as they do with the details, they’d better go the rest of the way.
Even those who fully agree with the messages of DO NOT WORRY HONEY You will have logistical problems. There are also some glaring contradictions in the supporting characters that aren’t addressed, and the dialogue (especially towards the end) becomes didactic. Styles does well enough as the concerned Jack, and Pine perfectly embodies the self-satisfied Frank. Chan is believably formidable as Shelley, and Kate Berlant handles the tone very well as a friendly neighbor.
DO NOT WORRY HONEY he’s handsome and personable in a ’70s speculative fiction sort of way. But by the time he’s done, viewers will be with Alice feeling deja vu.
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