Writer-director-producer-star Lake Bell follows her brainy woman-in-a-man’s world workplace comedy In A World with something at once more radical and more reactionary: a spirited defense of marriage. Of course, you can’t go defending something so common and square without bringing in handjob parlors, hippie communes, and sex addicts for color contrast, and Bell is happy to oblige — happy also to go broad with the comedy, saving the detail work for her beloved couples. The film’s title is also the in-film title of a (divorced) documentarian’s work-in-progress, a highly personal polemic against marital permanence. She’s come to Florida, divorce capital of the country, in search of subjects (well, targets), and lands on grumpy old timers Paul Reiser and Mary Steenburgen, struggling business partners Ed Helms and Lake Bell, and free spirits Wyatt Cenac and Amber Heard. But what do you know, her increasingly desperate attempts to shape the narrative produce unintended consequences. Second thought: given the emphasis on sincerity and sweetness over argument and insight, maybe “defense” is the wrong word. Maybe it should be “affirmation.” (2017) — Matthew Lickona
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