Larry is a slacker, completely content living a mundane existence with his dog Arrow and lots of booze to keep him company. His tolerance for others isn't exactly high, with the only real relationships in his life being with his grandmother, who keeps him afloat financially, and his friend Norwood, who sneaks him pharmaceuticals. After being fired for stealing from his job at a local restaurant, Larry starts a new job at a Jiffy Lube type business, which may, or may not, be the impetus that sends Larry down a different path in life. Bob Byington's 7 Chinese Brothers is a quietly observant study of a character who has absolutely no ambition in life, featuring a strong performance by Jason Schwartzman. The film could certainly be characterized as slight, but I'd argue there is plenty of interesting aspects of 7 Chinese Brothers, buried beneath the mundanity of our main protagonist. There is a quiet frustration, a quiet sadness in this character that becomes more obvious as the film progresses, pulling back Larry's content with being a slacker and revealing a frustrated man who simply hasn't had an opportunity to make something of himself. The mundane, day-to-day, of 7 Chinese Brothers speaks to some larger truths about life, with Larry routinely rolling with the punches, no matter what. Whether it's his best friend, Norwood, entering into a relationship with the girl Larry likes, or the death of Larry's grandmother, our main protagonists' demeanor barely chances throughout the narrative, as if Bob Byington is making a commentary on life itself, something that we can never hope to control. Larry is a character who never gets too high, nor too low, always having a playful personality, regadless of his troubles with alcohol. Featuring lots of great dry humor and a role that Jason Schwartzman was born to play, Bob Byington's 7 Chinese Brothers is a relatively simple story that reveals some interesting observations about life itself.
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