How I Dumped My Ex-Boyfriend’s Body is a 2014 film written and directed by Dennis Nadeau. This movie is pretty hilarious, and even poignant at times. Overall, it’s a deft, well-edited blend of comedy, crime and the thriller genre. The movie’s plot centers around Maxine and Shae, played by Meredith L. Phillips and Vanessa Leigh. Maxine has murdered her boyfriend and needs help getting rid of the body, so she calls her best friend Shea. The plot centers around their attempts to dispose of the corpse and the hi-jinks that ensues.
The first act of the movie exhibits a silly, nonchalant tone, and I feared this could be the its undoing. The characters don’t really show any empathy towards the dead human being in Maxine’s kitchen. They immediately start cracking jokes, while the body lies there undergoing the first stages of decomposition. What follows are their sad attempts to dispose of the body. They are not realistic solutions, such as trying to bury the corpse in the backyard, in the middle of the day. The silliness in the first half lost me a little bit. I know it’s a comedy, but with the its stark, morbid premise, I think some real stakes and urgency is to be expected. There are a couple attempts at scatological humor early on that made me squirm, but not laugh, and I feared that the movie might devolve into an overly silly, gross out film, without any real stakes. But, quite remarkably, the narrative manages to build up to a real emotional payoff at the end, and the grand finale is something funny, bizarre and totally unexpected.
The humor also ends up being much more than silliness. The dialogue is clever and feels natural, and many of the jokes push the boundaries of good taste. Later in the film there is a humorous exchange between the two leads in a bathroom. The punchline of their banter will have you feeling conflicted about laughing at it, but they say the best humor makes you laugh and think. However, some lines will come off as offensive or insensitive to people with particular social sensitivities, as the humor in this film is far from politically correct. It’s always a double-edged sword when inhabiting this edgy comedic territory, and there’s a risk that the humor will alienate some viewers.
What makes this movie work is the chemistry of the cast members, an essential ingredient for successful comedies. The two leads play off each other well and reminded me of the dynamic of the two best friends in Comedy Central’s Broad City. There’s a cat burglar scene in this movie that seems like it could have been cut and paste directly from one of that show’s scripts. The other cast members also turn in strong comedic performances, playing characters that range from a creepy pervert neighbor to a paraplegic, dwarf crime lord. Somehow all these disparate character types coexist, and their humor meshes well.
When recommending an independent production to people who aren’t into that type of thing, I’ll usually have to throw in the caveat that they should be a little forgiving of bad production, acting, and other aspects that contribute to a general sense of amateurishness. I wouldn’t say that about How I Dumped My Ex-Boyfriend’s Body. Funny is funny, and that applies here, so I highly recommend this for any fan of offbeat comedies.
An alumnus of the UMASS Amherst Journalism undergraduate program, Michael lives in Medford, MA and spends his time in local parks, contemplating life. Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org