Co­me­dian widens her range in sly ‘Spin­ster’

Chicago Sun-Times - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - BY RICHARD ROEPER, MOVIE COLUM­NIST rroeper@sun­times.com @RichardERo­eper

Per­haps my fa­vorite throwaway line in any movie this year comes in “Spin­ster” when Chelsea Peretti’s Gaby is re­turn­ing home after adopt­ing a res­cue pup and says to her next-door neigh­bor in dead­pan fash­ion: “This is my new used dog.”

Too great.

Peretti, the tal­ented writer and ac­tor best known for her role as the rapier-wit­ted Gina Linetti on “Brook­lyn Nine-Nine,” is in her com­fort lane in An­drea Dorf­man’s “Spin­ster,” a sly and low-key com­edy/drama about a 39-year-old un­der­achiever who shields her per­sonal and pro­fes­sional in­se­cu­ri­ties in an ar­mor of in­sults and put­downs and de­lib­er­ately off-putting be­hav­ior. If you come out of the box com­ment­ing on ev­ery­one else’s lives and telling them what

their prob­lems are, they’ll be so off-bal­ance they won’t be able to cri­tique you, right?

Re­cently dumped and un­happy with her job as a caterer, Gaby is drift­ing through life with a gi­ant chip on her shoul­der, in part be­cause of an un­happy child­hood and in part be­cause, well, that’s just Gaby.

But hey, Gaby is try­ing to step up her so­cial game. She re­mains close with her best friend Amanda (Su­san Kent) even though they have less and less in com­mon, what with Amanda be­ing a mar­ried mother and Gaby be­ing on her own. (When Gaby drops in unan­nounced and finds Amanda is hav­ing an all-cou­ples din­ner party, it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore she butts heads with a thick-skulled mar­ried guy who prat­tles on about how self­ish it is for a woman to go through life with­out com­mit­ting to a re­la­tion­ship and giv­ing birth.) She’s re­cently be­come close with her niece, Wil­low (Char­lie Boyle), a kin­dred free spirit and fel­low so­cial out­cast. And let’s not for­get, she’s the re­cent and quite proud owner of a new used dog!

On the ro­man­tic front, things are less promis­ing. In a hi­lar­i­ous mon­tage of Tin­der dates gone wrong, we never see the guys — it’s just Gaby’s re­ac­tions, which range from the bored to the con­fused to bor­der­line ter­ri­fied. At one point, she just gets up and leaves — only to re­turn just long enough to scoop up her gob­let of wine. When Gaby fi­nally does click with a great guy in rather corny fash­ion, even that movie cliché of a meet­cute takes an un­ex­pected turn.

“Spin­ster” isn’t a par­tic­u­larly vis­ually ar­rest­ing film, nor is it burst­ing with mem­o­rable and col­or­ful sup­port­ing play­ers. It’s sim­ply an ef­fec­tive ve­hi­cle for Chelsea Peretti to ex­pand upon her smart/cyn­i­cal per­sona to in­clude some gen­uine heart and lik­a­bil­ity as well.

VER­TI­CAL EN­TER­TAIN­MENT

Co­me­dian Chelsea Peretti stars as an un­happy sin­gle woman in “Spin­ster.”

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