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Meet Bill

This unfocused tale of middle class unhappiness is likely to leave viewers wondering if they really should have bothered to meet Bill.

Bill (Aaron Eckhart) is a paunchy, dissatisfied HR manager in his father-in-law's firm. His wife (Elizabeth Banks) is cheating on him, and whenever it gets too much he reaches for his secret stash of Snickers bars. Help comes in the form of a teenaged boy (Logan Lerman) who for some unknown reason chooses this deadbeat as his mentor before realising that it is in fact Bill who needs the mentoring. Several red herrings involving fireworks and doughnuts later, it becomes clear that this film has no idea what it is trying to say. The first-time directors Melissa Wallack and Bernie Goldman attempt a tale of self discovery, but with the plot, characterisation and direction all a mind-numbing shambles, it is difficult to decipher. Pointless scenes that should never have made it past the first edit have somehow remained. And the confusing and unnecessary friendship that blossoms between the saleswoman Lucy (Jessica Alba) and the teenager borders on creepy. With his cartoonlike features, Eckhart is best suited to smooth-talking, all-American-hero roles (see the The Dark Knight and Thank You For Smoking), so casting him against type as a pathetic, bungling loser could have been interesting. Sadly, Eckhart at half speed is a hulking bore. We end up wishing we had saved ourselves 90 minutes of bewilderment by never having bothered to meet Bill in the first place.

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