On the Count of Three

COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 26min

STARRING: Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Abbott

One, two… : from left, Abbott and Carmichael

What if the business of living wasn’t working out for you? For best friends Val (actor, comedian and first-time director Carmichael) and Kevin (Girls ’ Abbott), life sucks so hard that a sinkhole of diminishing returns has bottomed out by their thirties in a mutual suicide pact. Kevin, furious and depressed, has been on meds for decades and has just been hospitalised once again for a suicide attempt with which Val apparently couldn’t agree more. “Not waking up tomorrow is the most beautiful thought I’ve had in a long time,” he confides. Oh-kay.


Carmichael’s debut feature opens on the kamikaze couple with guns drawn outside a New Jersey strip club, but of course there’s a catch. (Well, there had to be, didn’t there. Otherwise, welcome to the shortest debut in cinema history.) At the last possible second, Kevin decides he needs a stay of execution, in which the two short fuses will flame out over a final, erratic day of reckoning.


To be fair, that punishing day is enough to push anybody over the proverbial brink. Among other slings and arrows, Val’s withholding father (J.B. Smoove) is a lifetime of therapy waiting to happen. His seething, pregnant girlfriend (Tiffany Haddish, going for it) isn’t about to let him off lightly. And that’s before Henry Winkler rocks up, bringing a rancid edge to the concept of triggering as Kevin’s creepy childhood doctor.


Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch’s sharp-eyed screenplay is billed as a comic drama, and while its inky absurdity is a tempering through line, a terminal nosedive is no laughing matter — unless the sting of bitter irony is your idea of a cosmic joke.