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"Better Living Through Chemistry" (2014 release; 92 min.) brings the story of Doug Varney (played by Sam Rockwell), who is stuck in an unhappy marriage, and who has just bought the pharmacy from his father-in-law. One evening, Doug is making house deliveries of prescriptions, and one of those deliveries is to a McMansion, where the doorbell is answered by Elizabeth, a beautiful yet bored and unhappy housewife (played by Olivia Wilde). It's not long before Doug and Elizabeth hit it off, setting Doug on a path of personal discovery. In a parallel story, Doug is dealing with his 12 year old son who is going through a tough stretch himself. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: first, this is the big screen debut of Geoff Moore and David Posamentier, who co-directed and also co-wrote this original screenplay. Second, this is one of those 'little' indie movies that just could, as the movie doesn't take itself too seriously yet before you know it 90 min. have come and gone. Third, the character of Doug is of course crucial to the success of the movie. Originally schedule to be played by Jeremy Renner (who bowed out due to schedule conflicts), Sam Rockwell, whom we saw excel just last year in "The Way, Way Back", gives a commanding performance as Doug, and basically carries the movie on his shoulders. There are many other smaller choice roles, including of course Olivia Wilde, but check out also Ray Liotta as the husband of Elizabeth (max 15 min. of screen time), and Jane Fonda as herself at the very end (in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it role, but she does provide the voice-over along the movie). Fourth, the movie was filmed in and around Annapolis, MD, which looks just gorgeous. Last but not least, there are a lot of great songs in the movie soundtrack, including Donovan's "Season of the Witch" and lots of indie music. But Queens of the Stone Age's "Better Living Through Chemistry" is NOT in the movie.

This movie opened today without any pre-release fanfare or hype at my local art-house theatre here in Cincinnati. The late matinee showing I saw this at was surprisingly well attended, given the low profile of the movie and the simultaneous release on Amazon Instant Video. All that aside, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. "Better Living Through Chemistry" is definitely worth checking out, be it in the theater, on DVD or on Amazon Instant Video.
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on April 22, 2014
Super funny. Sam Rockwell does a great job of playing his somewhat downtrodden character. And Olivia Wilde complements him well. Overall, an easy, funny, low stress movie that's only an hour and a half long.
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on September 11, 2015
what a wonderful little movie. Sam Rockwell as the poor put upon husband who now owns a pharmacy even though his father-in-law who he bought it from doesn't acknowledge it. Michelle Monaghan as his wife who thinks he is nothing. Ray Liotta as the husband of the mistress Olivia Wilde who is introducing Sam to a whole new and exciting world through sex and pharmaceuticals. there it is in a nutshell and you will absolutely enjoy it and have some fun with it and just smile a lot. Pure entertainment and worth the time to watch.
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on April 28, 2016
The voiceover kinda ruined this movie for me. I guess it was meant to give this story the feeling of a fable but it just felt intrusive, as in, "What are you doing talking during my movie?" Casting was off on this one. Though I love Rockwell, I felt his natural charisma came through too much for a guy who's supposed to be pent up, beaten down, repressed. Didn't feel right. I didn't like Moynahan's (more of a hippy chick then a perfectionist housewife), Wilde's or Liotta's casting either. The characterizations and writing were off. They were near fits but not perfect fits. I'm also not comfortable with the cheeky endorsement of recreational prescription drug use and the casual dispensing of a peripheral character...(what? his life is less important because he doesn't have a prestigious job?). This movie is watchable but I think it's more for the suburban crowd.
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on May 29, 2016
Sam Rockwell gives a humorous performance in regards to a husband dealing with his bossy wife and father-in-law, while being a good father, and a really, intimate, close friend to the young beautiful, drug using, trophy wife living in his small neighborhood.
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on April 7, 2014
In a small idyllic town, the village pharmacist knows everyone's secrets. Doug Varney (Sam Rockwell) has a fitness compulsive wife (Michelle Monaghan) an unruly child (Harrison Holzer) and an irritating narrator (Jane Fonda). Stuck in a rut he meets rich wife Elizabeth (Olivia Wilde) who breaks Doug out and instills confidence in him through an affair and pills.

The film reminded me of a generic Magnolia indie. Let's throw together some quirky characters, get a couple of names, create an unlikely scenario, toss in a few cliches, an appropriate sound track and stir. There was nothing overly entertaining in the film, yet at the same time I wasn't bored waiting for something to happen. For those who can't get enough of the clever and quirky indies, you might get a quick fix from this film.

Parental Guide: F-bomb. Sex.
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on April 2, 2016
Way better than I had anticipated! The cover of the movie doesn't do it justice. It's a story about Mr. Varney, who is being used and belittled by his wife and coworkers. He then meets a woman who opens his eyes into what he's been missing. Mr. Varney then embarks on a drug and alcohol fueled affair that leads to great comedic achievements from the cast. This movie is lead my the hilarious Sam Rockwell and he should have gotten some recognition for this film. It's a great comedy that is sure to make you laugh.
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on July 14, 2014
Excellent cast, dark comedic moments. Anyone that has been down the road of using or needing prescription medication to get through the trials of life should definitely get some good laughs out of this one. Bought it rather than renting...have watched it three times so far. I was pretty familiar with Ray Liotta, Olivia Wilde and Jane Fonda's body of work but after this movie I'm looking up more of Sam Rockwell and Michelle Monaghan....those two slipped by me but I'm finding their stuff to be very entertaining.
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The story, mostly narration, paints a glum picture for pharmacist Doug Varney (Sam Rockwell). His wife (Michelle Monaghan) is a self-centered daddy's girl. His son is an out of control defecator. His father-in-law rules the roost. Well you get the picture.

Then he saw her face; customer Elizabeth Roberts (Elizabeth Roberts) is everything he ever wanted. She leads him down the rabbit hole to explore sex, drugs and possibly murder.

As his world unravels we unravel with him. Looks like he has had it.

I was caught off guard with the cameo at the end. I should have suspected from the narration.
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on July 25, 2014
Great movie, great acting. Wonderful dark comedy. Olivia Wilde and Sam Rockwell make it a fun use of your time.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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