No two people handle grief the same way, and no two situations involving dealing with a terrible loss are ever identical. But Vanessa (Jillian Bell) may have the most unique grief experience ever when she meets an alien (Natalie Morales) who looks exactly like Jennifer, her recently deceased and very dearly missed lifelong best friend.
This bizarre, heartbreaking, but ultimately cathartic encounter plays out across I’m Totally Fine, a melancholy new comedy from director Brandon Dermer and writer Alisha Ketry. Along with Bell and Morales, the cast also features a small but fun turn by What We Do in the Shadows’ Harvey Guillén—so if you ever wanted to see Guillermo play a chipper DJ who keeps party drugs in his record bag, you have a reason to watch I’m Totally Fine.
But while Guillén is delightful, the movie belongs to Bell. When we first meet her character, she’s crying in her car on the side of the road, determined to follow through on a weekend trip that was supposed to be a bash celebrating her and Jen’s business success. Instead, it’s Vanessa alone in a rental mansion, grappling with raw anguish, popping Xanax, and getting wasted on champagne brought by caterers who insist on setting up the party she’s already paid for but doesn’t want. The next morning, she awakens with a raging hangover to find that Jen is somehow alive again and hanging out in the house with her, and immediately assumes she’s losing her mind.
It’s a valid concern, even when the Jen-like woman—who has awkward body language, speaks in a stilted monotone, inadvertently drains the battery life of any device in her vicinity, and chugs gallons of olive oil—assures her, “I am not Jen. I am simply an extraterrestrial who has taken her form.” She’s a “species observation officer,” beamed to Earth for 48 hours to observe her pre-selected subject. Vanessa’s still not sure of her own sanity, but when Alien Jen reveals she has all of Human Jen’s memories, Vanessa agrees to play along, figuring, “It might be fun to see how unstable I can get!”
You can probably already see where I’m Totally Fine is headed—hurt feelings and hard truths get aired out and the emotional rollercoaster spins around a few times; you might not predict the multiple Papa Roach sing-alongs, however—but the road getting there feels authentic. The script offers a satisfying exploration of wish fulfillment, because who wouldn’t want to spend a bonus 48 hours with a departed loved one, or at least a reasonable facsimile of them, to say all the things you wish you had said, goof around together one last time, and achieve some much-needed closure?
Morales is endearing as the alien who’s startled when she starts to care for her research subject, but Jillian Bell is the movie’s heart. Bell has a long comedy resume, but her work here builds on the performance she gave in 2019's Brittany Runs a Marathon—another tale of a complicated woman working through some major life changes. Somehow Bell’s character feels just as grounded and relatable here, anchoring a story that feels deeply sincere despite the wacky sci-fi plot twist at its center.
I’m Totally Fine hits theaters, digital, and on demand November 4.
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