Review: Coffee Town (Brad Copeland, 2013)

by Jason Suzuki

I went into Coffee Town first and foremost as a Glenn Howerton fan, he is the main reason the film was on my radar. Because of this I was also holding the film up to an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia standard which is not entirely fair although their are more similarities to the show than I thought there would be.

The film starts out with an intertitle that counts down the days until a robbery. We eventually learn that this robbery will be conducted by our protagonist Will (Howerton) and his two friends Gino and Chad, Ben Schwartz and Steve Little respectively. What at first seems like a cutesy, Tarantino-lite way of structuring the film, gets eventually used for comedic effect similar to the way the titles of each episode of It’s Always Sunny for punctuation to the preceding scene and exhibiting an irreverence to the characters. The reason this robbery is going to take place is that it is a last ditch effort by Will to keep his beloved Coffee Town, which also acts as his office with its social atmosphere and free wi-fi, from being converted into a coffee shop bistro, thus making the place not so work friendly even though we hardly ever see him working.

Steve Little is constantly funny as would be expected from his turns in more surreal comedies like Wrong and The Catechism Cataclysm. Him and Schwartz are what Howerton plays the straight man to just as he usually does in It’s Always Sunnyespecially in the earlier seasons where he is constantly befuddled by the schemes and white trash eccentricities of his friends. Now his character’s egocentric, womanizing, Patrick Bateman psychosis has been turned up to 11 which puts him on par with as far as manic entertainment levels with the rest of the cast in the show, but with Coffee Town it’s nice to see him be a little more subdued and pursue a more genuine romance with his crush Becca (John Wick’s Adrianne Palicki) which makes up the film’s major subplot. Unlike his character on the show Dennis, Howerton’s Will is nervous about approaching women and does not derive sexual pleasure from the psychological torture of said women.

The final similarity to It’s Always Sunny, and the most important one to the entertainment factor of the film, is its penchant for disregarding political correctness. We get jokes about AIDS which later have some narrative significance as well as a street fight between a man with and a man without Down’s Syndrome which also later contributes to the narrative. The fact that these are not just throwaway attempts at pushing buttons but also play into the the development of the story is something to give credit to as it means writer/director Copeland isn’t trying to throw in bits of un-PC humor but make it integral. Unfortunately the levels of insanity the film reaches don’t equal those afforded to Sunny because we still want to like Will, we don’t want to laugh at him and enjoy the depraved, insecure, and selfish soul like we do his TV cousin Dennis. Coffee Town shows that Howerton can have an audience like him for his humane qualities. 

Jason Suzuki is co-editor to Cinema Adrift.