It’s hard not to sympathize with Matt (Tahj Mowry), the protagonist of writer/director Leon Pierce Jr.’s film, in his current situation. A filmmaker who met some success with a big-budget studio comedy, which he wrote and directed and for which he is almost instantly recognizable to anyone on the street, Matt is now essentially hobbled by his own failing mental health, following a traumatic event from his past. He sits at home, terrified of what awaits him outside, and he tries to write a screenplay that might communicate his troubles in a relatable or accessible way. One might read this part of the premise and wonder how in the world Welcome Matt is a loud and abrasive comedy.

The decision to make it a comedy spells death almost instantly for any goodwill Pierce might have been able to muster from the audience. Matt is instantly relatable, but everything about how the movie deals with this character — from the way he is the target of everyone else’s mockery for his severe agoraphobia to Mowry’s performance — is dialed up to such a high tonal decibel that it begins to feel impossible to relate to him in just about any way. Not until the final 15 minutes do we learn anything genuinely insightful about him, and by that point, we have stopped being able to care about what happens.

Matt’s situation might be the film’s premise, but the plot is merely a parade of overwrought situations. Writing his screenplay in isolation from everything and everyone has not been the source of inspiration he foresaw. His girlfriend, Samantha (Adriyan Rae), is a sociopathic control freak who has no patience for his deep troubles, and a bit of scandalous sexting on her phone reveals that she has been cheating on him. His mother. Angela (Jazsmin Lewis), Facetimes him regularly, mostly to be pushy and invasive. His agent, Cedric (Aaron Grady), informs him that the studio with which he made that recent comedy wants to partner up with him to crank out a sequel.

Matt wants none of this. He can’t face the outside world, and after all, he’s trying to get this more personal project off the ground. He needs that spark of inspiration, though, and it arrives in the forms of two people. Norman (Deon Cole) is a stand-up comic of medium renown who drunkenly winds up in Matt’s house after a rager one night. Lisa (GG Townson) is a licensed therapist, hired by Angela, who suffers from being emotionally reactive in the extreme. Norman has some brutal honesty to convey about Matt’s current project, which is meant to be sort of an autobiography, and Lisa’s compassionate understanding leads to some romantic feelings, which almost certainly violates a few ethical rules of being a therapist.

Neither of these characters is a believable foil for Matt’s mental health issues, which come to a head after a lot of false drama in a climax that seeks to offer tidy solutions to Matt’s problems. It turns out that much of Welcome Matt is predicated, instead, upon a lot of obvious comic scenarios and undercooked melodrama.

One might read this premise and wonder how in the world Welcome Matt is a loud and abrasive comedy.
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