Most marital arguments, in the worldview of the couples-therapy dramedy “Band Aid,” consist of refrains so repetitive that they might as well be set to music. That’s the joke — or one of them — in the filmmaking debut of actress Zoe Lister-Jones, who also stars as one half of the millennial Bickersons at the center of this serio-rom-com, for which she also wrote the clever screenplay and (with Kyle Forester) the catchy songs.
Lister-Jones plays Anna, a failed-writer-turned-Uber-driver married to Ben (Adam Pally), a charming schlub who once nurtured dreams of becoming a real artist but who spends his days designing logos for freelance clients — at least, when he is not playing video games or smoking pot. The two argue constantly — about dirty dishes, sex, and compliments (or the lack thereof) — until one day Anna hits upon an idea: “What if we turned all our fights into songs?”
Sure, why not? As their marriage therapist (Retta) tells them, they keep having the same fights over and over and over again. Sounds like chorus-verse-repeat.
That premise — executed more plausibly than one might expect, given its preposterousness — isn’t really more than a bit of side shtick to a pretty interesting and honest tale about coming to some hard realizations about commitment. In another film, the fight songs might have led to a record contract and fame for the new band (dubbed the Dirty Dishes, naturally), who crank out indie hit after indie hit about the old ball-and-chain, while rejoicing in their newfound connection to each other offstage.
Thankfully, “Band Aid” is not that movie.
Although Lister-Jones does indulge in a little hard-to-swallow silliness, mostly courtesy of Anna and Ben’s weirdo neighbor and drummer, Dave (Fred Armisen), a recovering sex addict and cocoa aficionado, her film mostly steers clear of gimmickry as its protagonists navigate the perilous shoals of matrimony.
There is, of course, something else that is eating at them beside the unwashed dishes and their dead-end jobs. It’s an issue that feels a bit pat, in the way that Lister-Jones introduces it and then milks it for melodrama. That’s especially glaring compared with her light yet insightful touch with the rest of the screenplay. I wouldn’t call “Band Aid” profound, but it’s wiser and deeper than the average pop song, if not by much.
Unrated. At Landmark’s E Street Cinema. Contains strong language, drug use, sex and nudity. 94 minutes.